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Donated by 
The Redemptorists of 
the Toronto Province 

from the Library Collection of 
Holy Redeemer College, Windsor 

University of 
St. Michael's College, Toronto 





Saint Parpret, 




}g a Swular fries*. 

"The queen that bore thee, 


London : BURNS & OATES, Limited. 
New York : Catholic Publication Society Company. 


'V v 


Cat/. I. 


Birth of the- } V.ncess Margaret. — She spends her child- 
hood in Hungary, at the Court of St. Stephen . . 1 

Chap. II. 

St. Edward invites the Princess Margaret and her family 
to England. — At the Conquest they retire from England, 
and are driven by a storm into Scotland, -where the Princess 
is married to King Malcolm III 6 


Chap. 111. 

Barbarous condition of the Scotch. — Queen Margaret's 
prayers, charities, and love of mortification— She obtains . 
justice for the poor ; and redeems many English captives 
taken in war. — Pilgrimage to St. Andrew'*} . . 10 

Chap. IV. 

Queen V?jgaret's munificence to churches.— H..r in- 
fluence over her husband.— She encourages ceremony at 
Court. — And reforms public manners. — She promotes in- 
dustry and commerce 17 

Chap. V. 

The queen's family.— Their later history. — The queen 
persuades the Bishops to reform some abuses in religion. — 
She addresses them in Council. The Grace-Drink . .22 

A 2 



Chap. VI. 

Queen Margaret feels a presentiment of her death. — 
Malcolm goes to war with England, and perishes. — The 
Queen expires in Edinburgh Castle, and is buried at Dun- 
fermline . 2S 

Chap. VII. 

Beginning of devotion to Queen Margaret as a Saint. — 
Her canonisation. — And translation.— Her tomb a place of 
pilgrimage. — Cross Hill. — What became of her body after 
the Eeformation. — Her head preserved, and sent to trie Low 
Countries. — Her office inserted in the Roman Breviary. — 
Changes in the day set apart for her festival . . . ?.$ 

Chap. VIII. 

Memorials of St. Margaret in Scotland. — Her Chapel in 
Edinburgh Castle. — Her Well. — Queensferry. — Dunferm- 
line. — Her Altar in Rome. — Conclusion . . . .40 



Birth ftf the Princess Margaret. — She spends her childhood in 
Hungary, at the Court of St. Stephen. 

Eight hundred years ago, the court of St. Edward the 
Confessor was the residence of a young princess, named 
Margaret, of whom few, beyond that court, knew any- 
thing. Her life, up to that time, had been a checquered 
cue ; if, indeed, we can properly call a life checquered 
which bad beeu almost entirely passed in the dark 
shadow of misfortune. Long before she was born, her 
grandfather, Edmund Ironside, had been murdered, 
and his share of the kingdom of England seized by 
Canute the Dane. Her father and her uncle, the sons 
of the murdered king, were sent by the usurper to a 
powerful friend of his in Sweden, together with secret 
instructions that the unhappy boys should be put safely 
out of the way. Canute's friend seems to have had 
more conscience than Canute himself; and, instead of 
putting the poor children to death, he privately sent 
them away to the court of Stephen, king of Hungary, — 
probably the same Stephen as we find honoured as a 


saint, with a festival, in September, every year. Indeed, 
before we have done with the life of this young princess, 
Margaret, we shall probably discover a strong family 
likeness between her mode of life and wbat passed 
every day at the court of St. Stephen. 

Margaret's father and uncle, then, still mere boys, 
and thus rudely driven about the world, were kindly 
received by the king of Hungary. Edwin, the elder of 
the two, and the uncle of our young princess, did not 
live to be a man ; but his brother Edward became so 
popular at tbe Hungarian court as to marry the queen's 
niece, Agatha, a daughter of Bruno, brother of the 
emperor St. Henry. Their union was blessed with 
three children : — Edgar, afterwards surnamed the 
Etheling ; Christina, who lived to become Abbess or 
Wilton; and Margaret, the future queen of Scotland. 
From what is known of later events in her life, the date 
of her birth must have been somewhere between Novem- 
ber 17th, 1046, and November 16th, 1047. By the time 
that she had become eminent enough to make people 
anxious to know its exact date, no one survived to give 
the information. 

But, before Margaret was born, several changes had 
happened at the Court of England. Canute, at his 
death, had been succeeded first by one of his sons, and 
then by another ; and when the second died, (1042), the 
English drove the Danes out of the kingdom, and 
looked about once more for a king of their own. If 


they had knowi. anything of the young grandson of 
Edmund Ironside, or if Hungary had not been so far 
from England, Margaret's father might now have 
recovered his rights, she might have been born in more 
prosperous circumstances, and the whole course of her 
future life might have been very different from what it 
actually became. 

To understand what took place at this crisis in the 
affairs of England, we must remember that the father 
of Edmund Ironside was twice married. When 
Edmund's mother died, Ethelred, his father, married 
Emma, the Flower and the Pearl of Normandy, and 
the aunt of William, afterwards the conqueror. Her 
eldest son, Edward, became a favourite with the 
English ; from his retreat in Normandy he had, for 
many years, watched the stormy course of events in his 
own country ; and now that the Danes were gone, and 
the English in want of a king of their own, he stepped 
in, and secured the crown without difficulty. Accord- 
ing to the laws of feudal succession, there can be no 
doubt that it belonged to Margaret's father, Edward, 
the son of Edmund Ironside's eldest son. Yet even 
our interest in all belonging to this young princess will 
hardly dispose us to regret an arrangement that gave 
St. Edward the Confessor to the throne of England ; 
although that arrangement excluded the family of the 
younger Edward from its inheritance. 

All those events happened before Margaret was 


born. St. Edward did not invite his nephew from 
Hungary, as might have been expected, to reside in 
England. So it was that Margaret was born, and that 
she spent all her childhood at the Court of St. Stephen. 
A royal princess in exile, even although she may have 
kind friends about her, is a notable instance of human 
weakness. Possessing onlj r the name of rank, without 
its independence, and its other substantial attributes, 
excluded by the accident of her birth from, those 
avenues to wealth, and influence, and station which are 
open to the inferior ranks of her countrywomen, — a 
poor and homeless princess might advantageously 
change places with the humblest lady in her kingdom. 
At the same time it must be remembered that, even in 
a worldly point of view, high position, and commanding 
influence are not generally good for the mind. There 
are few persons whom they do not more or less spoil ; 
few characters which are not sensibly deteriorated by 
them. The direct tendency of an influential position is 
to foster habits of imperiousness and selfishness ; many 
a gentle mind has been irremediably vulgarised by high 
elevation. Not that misfortune is without its peculiar 
and kindred dangers ; but, on the whole, it is a better 
school for the character than the precincts of a reigning 
sovereign's court. 

Our young princess was fortunate in her opportuni- 
ties of mixing in a court where earthly rank was made 
more attractive by the practice of the loveliest virtues. 


The king himself taught his courtiers, by his example, 
the duties of generosity towards the poor, and of tender 
sympathy with the sick ; he was remarkable for the 
practice of prayer, and is said to have gained some of 
his temporal successes over his enemies on his knees. 
More especially he prayed that he might be permitted 
to see Hungary completely christianised before bis 
death. His exertions with a view to that end were 
such as to earn for him the title of the Apostle of 
Hungary, and the permission of the Holy See, for him- 
self and his successors, to have a cross carried before 
them in processions. Out of his tender devotion to the 
Mother of Jesus, he dedicated his kingdom to her ; he 
took leave of this world on the day of her assumption, 
which he had taught his people to call Great Lady-day, 
Such a man could not fail to create an influence around 
him, of which even children like Margaret must have 
been sensible. Long after she had bidden adieu to 
Hungary and the home of her youth, and when she had 
entered on her own arduous Apostolate, she could not 
fail to remember the engaging lessons which, as a 
child, she had learnt from her father's royal friend and 



St. Edward invites the Princess Margaret and her family to 
England. — At the Conquest they retire from England, and 
are driven by a storm into Scotland, where the Princess 
Margaret is married to King Malcolm III. 

As time went on, and St. Edward felt himself growing 
old, without a child to whom he could transmit his 
crown, he resolved to invite his nephew, Edward, to 
come with his family to England, probably intending to 
receive him and entertain him as the future heir of the 
kingdom. The bishop of Worcester carried this invi- 
tation into Hungary, and the younger Edward acceded 
without difficulty to the wishes of his uncle. Margaret 
must have been about ten or eleven 3-ears old when 
her father returned, with all his family, to his native 
land. He did not long survive the change ; and thus 
bis only son, Edgar, the Etheling, became the heir pre- 
sumptive of St. Edward. Now, it seemed as if fortune 
were at last about to favour our young princess ; she 
was now more nearly in the position to which her royal 
descent entitled her ; she seemed destined at no remote 
day to become the sister of the reigning monarch, with 
the bright future incident to her position opening be- 
fore her. In other respects, too, she had lost nothing 


by her change of residence from Hungary to England. 
She had left the Court of St. Stephen only to enter the 
Court of St. Edward, in which the bright example of 
the beautiful queen, Edith, was only surpassed by the 
life of her holy husband. The company of saints does 
net always, indeed, make saints ; but where the dispo- 
sition towards what was good was so decided as in the 
case of young Margaret, the society first of her uncle 
Stephen, and next of her granduncle Edward, must 
have powerfully assisted the tendency of her own mind 
to the practice of perfection. 

During his early days of adversity, St. Edward had 
made a vow of pilgrimage to Rome. Afterwards, when 
he proposed to redeem his pledge, his counsellors 
strongly opposed it, representing to him the extreme 
danger of leaving his kingdom in those critical times, 
when several neighbouring states were watching their 
opportunity to snatch the crown of England from his 
head. He, therefore, solicited and obtained leave from 
Pope Leo IX. to compound for the remission of his 
vow, on certain conditions. One of these was that he 
should enlarge the Benedictine Monastery at West- 
minster. The work approached its close in the year 
1065 ; and, on Holy Innocent's-day, the Abbey-church 
tvas dedicated with great ceremony to the service of 
God, in honour of his blessed apostle St. Peter. St. 
Edward had been declining in health for some time be- 
.ore, and was unable to be present at this great cere- 


mony, Queen Edith, therefore, represented her husband 
on the occasion. Our young Margaret, now nineteen 
years of age, was one of the ornaments of the court on 
that day. Within a few weeks she took part in the 
second pageant which that venerable abbey has wit- 
nessed ; within a few weeks she accompanied Queen 
Edith, as the holy remains of St. Edward were carried 
to their last resting place. 

Edgar, the Etheling, was now by right king of Eng- 
land. But he was no match for the rough and unscru- 
pulous soldiers who coveted his crown. Harold, son of 
the late Godwin, Earl of Kent, and brother of Queen 
Edith, at once laid claim to it, on the pretence that it 
had been bequeathed to him by St. Edward. William, 
Duke of Normandy, also made a similar claim, on a 
similar pretence ; and, soon after, landing in England 
with an army, in support of his pretensions, he defeated 
and killed Harold in the memorable battle of Hastings, 
and thus at one blow became master of the kingdom. 
A faint but unavailing attempt was made to support the 
claims of Edgar ; but it was soon abandoned as hope- 
less, and the dark clouds of misfortune again gathered 
round the princess Margaret and her family. Her 
brother, finding nothing but humiliations in store for 
him if he remained in England, prepared to return to 
Hungary with his mother and his sister Margaret. 
Christina, it seems, had by this time left her family to 
follow the hie of a nun. Margaret, then, with her 


mother and brother sailed from England, a few months 
after the battle of Hastings, intending again to claim 
the hospitality of the Hungarian court. Providence, 
however, had very different designs for the refugees. 
A storm overtook them on their short sea-voyage ; they 
were blown out of their course into the Frith of Forth, 
in Scotland, and found a harbour of refuge on the coast 
of Fifeshire, a good many miles from the mouth of the 
Frith, at a place which was afterwards called St. Mar- 
garet's Bay, or St. Margaret's Hope. 

A few years before this event, the crown of Scotland 
had been recovered by Malcolm, the third sovereign of 
the name, called also Cean-more, or Great-head. The 
tragical end of his father Duncan has obtained a wide 
celebrity from the genius of our immortal Shakspeare. 
Young Malcolm fled from the usurper, Macbeth, and 
found an honourable retreat in England, with St. 
Edward, who further assisted him with an army, under 
the command of Siward, Earl of Northumberland. 
The treacherous Macbeth was killed in battle, and the 
young king regained his rights the same year that 
Margaret and her family were invited to come and 
reside in England. He was living with his court at 
Dunfermline, in Fifeshire, when news was brought to 
him that the royal English exiles were wrecked upon 
his coast, and within a very few miles of his residence. 
With characteristic generosity, he made haste to repay 
the debt that he owed to St. Edward, by conducting 


the refugees to Dunfermline, where he made them wel- 
come to his best hospitality. His goodness of heart 
was in no long time amply overpaid, by his obtaining 
possession of the heart and the band of tbe princess 
Margaret, then in the rlower of her youth and beauty. 


Barbarous condition of the Scotch.— Queen Margaret's prayers, 
charities, and love of mortification. — She obtains justice for 
the poor, and redeems many English captives taken in war.— 
Pilgrimage to St. Andrews. 

Scotland at that time must be considered as having 
scarcely begun to emerge from a state of barbarism. 
We speak of it as a kingdom, because its crown was 
independent; but its population probably did not equal 
half the modern population of Glasgow. Whole dis- 
tricts were occupied by morasses, by swamps, and by 
unproductive forests. The work of Xinian, of Palladius, 
and of Columba, to which it owed its Christianity, was 
not indeed wholly destroyed ; but it had suffered cruelly 
from the incursions of Danish and Norwegian pirates, 
and from the fierce passions of rival races within the 
country itself. 

An improvement had followed the union of its 
northern and southern inhabitants, under Kenneth 
Macaipine, in the previous century ; yet is impossible 


to doubt that, when young Malcolm returned from exile 
to take possession of his inheritance, he arrived amon» 
a people who had nearly everything to learn of the 
humanising arts of peace. War, and the chase, and a 
rude kind of husbandry were too probably the extent of 
their attainments. Many of the older monasteries had 
perished by foreign invasion ; the voice of religion could 
only make itself feebly heard amidst the bloody feuds 
of the clans, and the more terrible assaults of their 
English neighbours. Indeed, it is hardly a matter of 
doubt whether Malcolm himself was much superior in 
cultivation to the rude serfs an if jarons who looked up 
to him as their sovereign. The arrival of the princess 
Margaret with her retinue, and his choice of her for his 
queen, were events of the very highest importance iu 
their results on the late history of the Scottish nation. 
Its civilisation may be assumed to date from the occur- 
rence of those fortunate events. If polished manners 
were anywhere to be found at that day, Margaret must 
have acquired them at the court of Stephen, and her 
mother could not fail to have been familiar with them 
at the court of the emperor. Several of the Hungarian 
and of the Norman nobility also became domesticated 
in Scotland, in the retinue of the princess Margaret and 
of her mother ; and it is probable that their cultivation 
must have been a little in advance of the native 

But the civilisation which took its rise in Scotland 


in the reign of Queen Margaret was eminently of a 
Christian kind. It differed essentially from the arti- 
ficial refinement of pagan nations in this, that religion 
was acknowledged as its foundation. The queen her- 
self was a model of every virtue. Her first care was 
to purify her own conscience, and secure the Divine 
blessing on her plans for the improvement of her people, 
by living a holy life. She made choice of a prudent 
counsellor in matters relating to her soul, in a Bene- 
dictine monk of the name of Turgot, who was afterwards 
prior of Durham, and finally bishop of St. Andrews. 
With him she concerted her plans for making her high 
position advantageous to the people of Scotland. It 
was he who directed her in the exercises of piety and 
devotion in which she spent a great portion of her time. 
There are numbers of good people in the world, who 
have no conception of the pleasure it gives holy persons 
to pass a long time in prayer, and in the praises of 
God. Hence it is a common mistake to suppose that 
this shew of devotion is made for a purpose, or that 
historians and panegyrists have made much more of it 
than is at all consistent with the truth. But it gene- 
rally happens that some proof of the reality of a saint's 
devotion is furnished by other and more active parts of 
his life. In the case of St. Margaret, although her 
daily prayers were long, her works of charity and of 
self-denial were arduous ; and such works are accom- 
plished only by hands that are every day stretched to 


heaven, for strength greater than belongs to our feeble 
nature. Prayer was so sweet to her, that she grudged 
spending all the night in sleep. She often rose ere it 
was day, to unite her praise with the worship of those 
heavenly choirs where there is no night. The Psalter 
was an especial favourite with her; she recited the 
whole of it, with many tears, every day. There are few 
days, indeed, in the life of any one, in which the 
changing moods of the human spirit are not reflected 
in the language of these inspired poems. St. Margaret 
never omitted being present, every morning, at the holy 
sacrifice of the mass. She generally found time to hear 
several masses, before engaging in the business of the 
day. Although books were a rare and expensive luxury 
in those days, the queen contrived to procure a few of 
them for her spiritual reading. We are told, in par- 
ticular, of a beautiful copy of the Gospels, which she 
valued very highly, and carried with her wherever she 
went. It was ornamented with gold and colours, and 
the capital letters were exquisitely illuminated. The 
king, her husband, was unable to read; but she inspired 
him with so much interest in all her pursuits, that he 
often looked into her prayer-books, and the rest of her 
little library; the rough man would even kiss a book 
of which he perceived the queen to be very fond ; and 
sometimes he would give an order to have it bound 
handsomely for her use. As a consequence of the 
queen's love of pious reading, she enjoyed conversing 



on religious subjects with some of her clergy, proposing 
questions for their solution, and often astonishing thorn 
with the depth and originality of her own thoughts. 

To this extraordinary love of prayer and of pious 
reading, she united a penitential tone of mind, which 
prompted her to afflict her body with fasting, even 
beyond the rule imposed by the Church. For example, 
she prepared for the festival of our Lord's Nativity by 
a fast of forty days, just as the Church prepares for 
the festival of his Resurrection by the fast of Lent. 
Tbe constant feebleness of her health might very well 
have excused her from duties of this kind, even from 
such as were of obligation ; but her resolute will carried 
her through the performance of more than was required. 
Her repasts, too, were strictly in accordance with the 
same spirit of penitence. They were poor and spare, 
and barely sufficient to sustain nature, without gratify- 
ing her appetite. 

Unhappily, the experience of daily life goes to shew 
that the practice of the severer virtues, such as these, 
does not necessarily promote among ordinary Christians 
the growth of the gentler and more amiable features of 
character. Human nature is so imperfect, among good 
people even, that we find every day censorious habits, 
suspicious tempers, irritable feelings, combined with a 
rigid performance of the severest duties of religion. 
But St. Margaret, like all the saints, kept her heart 
soft and tender by acts of mercy to the poor members 


of Jesus Christ. To wait on poor persons at table, to 
wash their feet, and to send them away with a liberal 
alms, was a part of her daily occupation. During Lent 
and Advent, their numbers were very considerably 
increased. Her charity especially overflowed towards 
widows and poor orphan children ; and she provided 
places where the indigent sick might be taken care of, 
and where she waited on them in person, as if in them 
she saw her Divine Lord and Master visibly repre- 
sented. The expense incurred by all this daily outlay 
sometimes exceeded the means at her command ; when 
that happened, she thought nothing of selling her own 
jewels and ornaments, and, with the king's permission, 
she now and then drew on the public treasury for sums 
of money which drained it of every farthing. 

In that rude age, it was often impossible for the poor 
to obtain justice in their disputes between man and 
man. Their hardships in this respect did not escape 
the attention of the tender-hearted queen. She made 
herself the channel of appeal for them to the royal ear; 
she sat in public places to hear their grievances and 
inform herself about the merits of their cause. In a 
field about a mile from Dunfermline, on the road to 
Queensferry, the county maps of last century used to 
shew the rosition of a stone called St. Margaret's stone, 
on which she was alleged by a constant tradition to 
have sat, while she held those rude courts of appeal, 
Tiie poorest could always obtain readier access to hey 

b 2 


there, than in the interior of her palace. The stone 
itself was still to be seen, sixty years ago, and probably 
more recently still. We do not know whether it may 
not remain to this day. 

Another form of mercy, to which the charity of the 
queen disposed her, belonged especially to the circum- 
stances of that age. Wars between the English and 
the Scottish nations were very frequent. The hos- 
pitable welcome given by Malcolm to the refugees from 
the English court, provoked the hostility of the Con- 
queror, and brought an army across the border of the 
kingdoms. From time to time, hostilities were renewed 
with varying success on either side ; and, as a conse- 
quence of this disturbed state of the country, Scotland 
contained many English prisoners of war, who became 
virtually the slaves of their captors. The queen em- 
ployed commissioners to travel over the country, and 
observe which of those unhappy captives were subjected 
to the severest treatment. When her commissioners 
had made their report, she sent them down again with 
money, to purchase the freedom of her suffering coun- 

St. Andrew's was then a place of great resort for 
pilgrims ; and many of them were poor people, who 
suffered great hardships, both in their passage across 
the Frith of Forth and when they reached the shore, 
either in going or in returning. The queen, in con- 
sequence, erected houses for their reception on the 


shores of the Frith, where they were provided, at her 
expense, with everything that they required. She also 
maintained a service of ferry-boats, for the gratuitous 
transport of poor pilgrims to the shrine of the apostle, 
and back again to their own homes. 


Queen Margaret's munificence to churches. — Her influence over 
her husband. — She encourages ceremony at court. — She 
reforms public manners. — She promotes industry and com- 

Munificence to the house of God is very nearly allied 
to the charity which cares for the living temples of his 
body. Apart, altogether, from the pious desire to lodge 
him, in his sacramental presence, in a manner not at 
least inferior to the palaces in which earthly sovereignty 
resides — a desire symbolised by the lavish act of Mary, 
when she anointed Jesus for his burial, and which the 
censorious traitor interpreted as a waste of precious 
materials — the poor are not robbed of the wealth which 
builds and adorns the temples of God. The poor, in 
the short intervals of their rest from toil, love to 
exchange their close and squalid abodes for the free air 
and the liberty of spacious churches ; the poor feel the 
exchange more agreeable than the rich, who return to 
homes more luxuriously furnished than the church. 


The poor also feel as if they had a kind of property in 
their churches ; they seem almost to belong to them. 
The church is at least common ground, above the 
ordinary level of the world, on which they can meet 
their richer neighbours with something of an equality. 
All that a noble church expresses, all that is done 
there and foreshadowed there, is common to rich and 
poor ; and the poor feel that, and in their hearts bless 
the founders of noble churches, as among their truest 

Such was doubtless the double motive of this holy 
queen, in her large contributions to the beauty of God's 
house. On the site of the humbler temple at Dun- 
Jermline, where she had been married and crowned, 
she erected a fine church, in honour of the blessed 
Trinity. The best decorations that the age afforded 
were bestowed upon it ; the vessels used in the service 
of the altar were of solid gold. Mention is made, also, 
of a cross of exquisite workmanship, and profusely 
ornamented with jewels and the precious metals, with 
tin image of our crucified Lord attached to it, which 
excited the devotion of every one who entered the 
queen's new church at Dunfermline. We must not 
confound with this crucifix another cross to which 
Queen Margaret had much devotion, and which, as we 
shall see by and by, she carried about with her on her 
journeys. This was long afterwards known as the 
Black Cross of Scotland ; it was to lodge it worthily 


that King David, the youngest son of Queen Margaret, 
built and endowed the abbey of Holy Rood, or Holy 
Cross, at Edinburgh. 

The queen was also a great benefactor to the church 
of St. Andrew's, afterwards the metropolitan see of 
Scotland. There, too, she erected a cross which was 
long regarded with peculiar veneration. Her chamber 
was always filled with materials for church decoratioi 
and for the divine service ; with censers, and copes, 
with chasubles, and stoles, and altar-cloths, and priests 
vestments. Some of these were in the process of 
manufacture, others of them, when finished, were kept 
there for a while, to be looked at and admired ; in 
short, the queen's workroom resembled the warehouse 
of a dealer in church ornaments. 

St. Margaret also erected a small chapel near Roslin, 
three miles to the south of Edinburgh, in honour of 
St. Catherine of Egypt, whose body is related to hav< 
been buried on Mount Sinai. The ruins of this chapel, 
which were still visible late in the last century, gave 
their name to the neighbouring mansion-house, which 
is still called St. Catherine's. 

Before Queen Margaret could effect so much for the 
honour of religion, it is clear that she must have gained 
very considerable influence over her husband. Although 
at first rude and illiterate, he was very tractable, and 
easily came into the views of his amiable queen. Her 
first success seems to have been in persuading him to 


reform his life. The duties of justice, of purity, of 
charity, and of mercy, are precisely those in which a 
man raised only a few degrees above a savage would be 
most wanting ; and in those duties he had before his 
eyes a daily model in Queen Margaret. She managed 
him so prudently as not to make her religion offensive 
to him, as too often happens from the indiscretion of 
pious people. Before Queen Margaret had done with 
her apt scholar, she had taught him both how to keep 
his conscience free from great sin, and also how to 
imitate her exercise of the works of mercy. She had 
taught him the value of prayer ; so much so, that he 
was often induced to join his holy queen in the exercise 
of public devotion, for which she stole time from the 
hours of the night. 

Margaret brought to her great task of civilising 
Scotland and its sovereign a larger worldly experience 
than bis, which she had gained during long and fami- 
liar residence at courts considerably further advanced 
in civilisation. Knowing the value of a certain cere- 
moniousness in preserving the subordination of one 
rank to another, without which society falls into serious 
disorder, Margaret introduced greater state into her 
husband's court ; she persuaded him to command the 
attendance of a guard of honour, when he appeared in 
public. State ceremonies were conducted with more 
decorum ; when the king entertained his nobles, greater 
attention was paid to external propriety, both in dress 


and in behaviour; and the sovereign and his guest3 
were, for the first time, served in gold and silver. The 
whole tenour of the holy queen's life will plead for her, 
against auy suspicion of ostentation in these new 
arrangements ; they were designed with excellent tact, 
for the purpose of teaching her rude people, in a way 
which they could easily comprehend, the natural dis- 
tinctions of rank, and the reciprocal duties of one order 
in society to another. 

Her reforms at court went deeper than this. She 
chose only women of noble birth, and of unimpeachable 
character, for her attendants ; she permitted no levity 
of manners among the young courtiers, in her presence. 
Her own manners were marked by a union of sweet- 
ness with reserve, which both attracted every one who 
approached her, and at the same time checked fami- 
liarity. Even when she was gayest, she never indulged 
in empty laughter ; and when she was compelled to 
find fault, she never failed in dignity, even in the most 
provoking circumstances. Her influence, as may be 
imagined from this description, which we owe to one 
who knew her well, was very great. It repressed the 
licence of a half-civilised court, and maintained a high 
tone of propriety, probably new to her courtiers. 

From the reign of this illustrious lady may be dated 
the earliest efforts of Scotland in commercial industry. 
She encouraged merchants to import, both by sea and 
from England, many and various kinds of goods, such 


as Scotland had never before known, more particularly 
in wearing-apparel of an ornamental kind ; and this no 
doubt with a view to elevating the taste and the tone 
of her people ; for, excepting the savage pomp of war, 
they were straugers to anything better than tbe squalid 
habits of their barbarian homes. We shall not attempt 
to decide the question, whether the invention of the 
Scottish tartan owes its origin to these efforts of Queen 
Margaret. Historians have said so ; and the thing is 
very possible. 


The Queen's family. — Their later history.— The queen per- 
suades the bishops to reform some abuses in religion. — She 
addresses them in council. — The Grace-Drink. 

The family of Queen Margaret consisted of six sons 
and two daughters. Their education naturally occu- 
pied much of the thoughts of their holy mother. Her 
active endeavours to train them up piously and usefully 
were sanctified by many secret prayers for success, and 
by many tears. Little or nothing of her method has 
come down to us, but this one significant fact, that, 
as in her lessons to her whole kingdom, the queen 
made subordination a constant rule in her family: she 
not only claimed deference and obedience from her 
children, for herself and for their father, but, in addi- 


tion to this, she insisted on the younger giving pre- 
cedence, on every occasion, to the elder. Thus, for 
example, when they went up to make their offering at 
mass, according to the custom of that day, she hade 
them go in the order of their ages, first the elder, and 
then the younger. 

A very hrief sketch of the later history of St. Mar- 
garet's children, will very well compensate for the 
scantiness of our knowledge as to her method of training 
them. Edward, the eldest son, was killed prematurely 
in battle ; but not before he had lived long enough to 
win the affection and esteem of the whole nation. His 
death was regarded as the too early extinction of the 
brightest promise. 

Ethelred, his next brother, died also in his youth. 
He had become a monk, died abbot of Dunkeld, and is 
mentioned in a monastic record as a man of venerable 
memory. His body is supposed to have been acci- 
dentally discovered in the church of Dunfermline, four 
centuries later, wrapped in silk, and in good preserva- 

Regarding Edmund, the queen's third son, history 
varies considerably. According to one version of his 
story, he lived and died in a pious manner, in England, 
as a recluse ; according to another, he failed in his 
duty for a time, but in the end expiated his fault by 
sincere repentance. In either case, the lessons of his 
mother were not lost upon him. Their influence would 


appear stronger, if we adopt the supposition of his 
becoming a great penitent. 

His fourth brother, Edgar, after an interval of a few 
years of anarchy in the kingdom, succeeded his father, 
Malcolm, and reigned happily nine years. His highest 
praise must be that, in his mild government, his equity, 
and his beneficence, nay, in the sweetness of his dis- 
position, he reminded all men of Edward the Confessor. 
Alexander, his next brother, became King of Scotland 
at his death, and maintained the family character for 
justice, charity, and religion. He made munificent 
gifts to the Church. Among other benefactions, he 
founded a monastery on the Island of Inchcolme, in 
the Frith of Forth, out of gratitude for his preservation 
in a violent tempest, which had driven him on the 
little island, and had kept him there for three days, as 
the guest of a lonely hermit. 

On his death, after a reign of seventeen years, David, 
the sixth and youngest son of the queen, began his 
long and prosperous reign of nearly thirty years. Cir- 
cumstances enabled him, more perfectly than his 
brothers, to carry on the humanising and civilising 
policy of his mother : in her son David, the holy queen 
may be said still to have presided over the destinies of 
Scotland. The churchmen, and especially the monastic 
orders of that day, were much in advance of the rough 
fighting-men and the still rougher peasantry, in the 
arts of civilisation. David, therefore, by the munificent 


encouragement which he gave to churchmen, largely 
promoted the objects so near his mother's heart in 
regard to Scotland. He died as he had lived, in a holy 
manner, and long enjoyed the local reputation of a 
saint, though he was never canonised by the Holy See. 

Matilda, or Maude, the elder of St. Margaret's 
daughters, reflected her mother's virtues at the court 
of Henry I. of England, to whom she was married. 
Her love to the poor, and her devotion to the sick, 
resembled her mother's ; she founded the hospitals of 
Christchurch in Aldgate, and of St. Giles', for their 
relief. Her subjects surnamed her The Good ; and 
local English calendars mentioned her, too, as a saint. 
Her dust lies in Westminster Abbey, not far from St. 
Edward's. Her only daughter, Maude, was married 
first to the Emperor Henry V., and afterwards to 
Geoffrey, Count of Anjou ; and by her second marriage 
she became the mother of Henry II. of England. 
Through her, our present gracious Queen, and many 
private English families, are lineally descended from 
St Margaret. 

The second daughter of the holy Queen of Scotland 
was named Mary, and became the wife of Eustace, 
Count of Boulogne, brother of the famous Godfrey, 
King of Jerusalem. She, too, left behind her a name 
for great piety and charity. If the proverb be true, 
that the end puts a crown on the work, Queen Mar- 
garet's education of her children was abundantly 
crowned in its successful issue. 


An undertaking, more arduous than all of these, 
still lay before our holy queen, before she could say 
that she had finished the task assigned to her. That 
was nothing less than a reformation of abuses in 
religion. If we consider the lawlessness of the times, 
and the demoralising effect of the frequent wars that 
wasted the country, it will not appear surprising that 
something had to be corrected in religious observances. 
The general neglect of Sundays, and of the great fes- 
tivals, seems to have been one of the most crying evils ; 
as was also the frequent disuse even of the Easter 
Communion. Marriage with a step-mother and with a 
brother's widow had become not uncommon. Among 
lesser evils, the irregular time of commencing Lent 
appeared to St. Margaret a matter which called for 
reform ; instead of commencing from Ash- Wednesday, 
or even earlier, as was the practice formerly in certain 
places, it had become the custom in Scotland to defer 
the beginning of the fast till after the first Sunday in 
Lent. To these and other matters of discipline, our 
holy queen could not be altogether indifferent. It is 
true, indeed, that she could not be regarded as respon- 
sible for them ; but it seemed to her at least worth an 
offort to bring her own influence and her husband's to 
bear upon the persons whose peculiar province it w r as 
to correct such abuses. With this view she promoted 
the meeting of provincial councils of the clergy on. 
several occasions. One of those was more than ordi- 
narily remarkable, for the active part which Margaret 


herself took in its deliberations. The Gaelic language 
was then the dialect of Scotland, but Margaret was 
ignorant of it; the king, therefore, who thoroughly 
understood both his own language and the Anglo-Saxon, 
which Margaret spoke, undertook to be the interpreter 
between the bishops and the queen. Margaret made 
a short speech to the assembled clergy, setting forth 
the abuses which called for amendment, with so much 
persuasiveness, as to engage her august audience at 
once to promote the reforms which she had so deeply 
at heart. The council, indeed, was not a large one ; 
the number of sees in Scotland then amounted to no 
more than four ; and it was part of the queen's scheme 
for the advancement of religion, to add two more sees 
for the northern part of her kingdom. 

The neglect of saying grace at meals suggested to 
the holy queen a popular way of encouraging this act 
of natural piety. She introduced the custom, at the 
end of meals, of drinking to the health of those persons 
who had thanked God for his temporal mercies. This 
custom long survived her, under the name of the 
Grace-Drink, or St. Margaret's blessing. 



Queen Margaret feels a presentiment of her death. — Malcolm 
goes to war with England, and perishes. — The Queen expires 
in Edinburgh Castle, and is buried at Dunfermline. 

For nearly a quarter of a century Scotland had enjoyed 
the benefit of Queen Margaret's example. It was a 
period of some prosperity for the country, occasionally 
dashed by reverses in war with the overwhelming 
force of England. Yet when compared with the sor- 
rowful youth of the queen, passed in a foreign land, 
and in a state of dependence on the goodwill of others, 
Margaret's married life may be accounted on the whole 
a fortunate time for her, in a worldly sense. But the 
scene once more changes, and the close of this holy 
lady's residence on earth is surrounded, like her youth, 
with gloom and storm. Her biographer has left us an 
affecting history of a conversation which she had with 
him, some time before the end, and in which she spoke 
openly to him of her presentiment of an early death. 
It was on an occasion when he was about to leave her 
to return to his monastery. She talked to him of all 
that had befallen her in life ; and as she spoke, her 
tears flowed freely. It was impossible to take part in 
such an interview, without being moved to tears. They 
both of them wept ; and for a time, neither spoke. 


Then the queen resumed, bidding her spiritual adviser 
farewell, — " I shall not be long in this world," sbe 
said, " and you will survive me many years. Two 
requests I have to make ; I beg you never to forget my 
soul in your masses and your prayers ; and that you 
will love and cai-e for my children, and will teach them 
to fear and to love God. If hereafter you sbould 
observe any of them too much elated with their higli 
porition, you will advise them, and, if necessary, re- 
prove them, as a father and a teacher, dissuading them 
from offending tbeir God by a love of money, and from 
the neglect of eternal happiness for the sake of earthly 
prosperity. These things I beg you will promise me to 
do, as in the presence of God, who is listening, as a 
third person, to our conversation." The good monk 
gave her his promise, through his tears ; and they 
parted for ever in this world. 

The son of the conqueror now reigned in England • 
and Malcolm took advantage of what seemed a favour- 
able moment to renew the war on the border. A short 
interval of peace ensued ; but a presumed invasion of 
Scottish rights in Cumberland again brought Malcolm 
into the field, in opposition to the express wish of 
St. Margaret, who, it seems, had a foresight of coming 
disasters. The queen, meanwhile, removed for security 
to the Castle of Edinburgh, a fortified stronghold, 
owing its origin to Edwin, the consort of St. Paulinus. 
A severe attack of illness left behind it a chronic 


weakness, from which she never rallied. At first she 
was compelled to forego her favourite exercise of riding 
on horseback ; later, she could seldom leave her bed. 
This state of langour continued for rather more than 
six months. 

Four days before she breathed her last, she appeared 
sadder than usual, and remarked to her attendants 
that perhaps that day a greater calamity had befallen 
Scotland, than at any former period. They paid no 
particular attention to what she said, until, a day or 
two later, news arrived that the king had perished ; 
then they remembered, too, how she had laboured to 
dissuade her husband from this fatal expedition. 

On the fourth day after she had made this remark, 
she revived a little, and was able to attend mass in 
her oratory, where she received for the last time the 
most sacred body of our Lord. Scarcely was the 
service over, when she became much worse, and was 
put to bed. It was evideut that her end was very 
near. Her face was deadly pale, and while the minis- 
ters of religion stood around, she entreated them to 
commend her soul to Christ. She sent for the black 
Cross, which she had always especially venerated ; it 
was placed in her hands ; and she kept looking at it, 
kissing it, and signing her face with it. Her hands 
and feet had become quite cold; still she prayed 
audibly, repeating the psalm Miserere, from beginning 
to end, holding the cross in both her hands. 


At this critical moment, her son Edgar arrived from 
the seat of war, with the first intelligence of disaster. 
Entering his mother's chamber, he found a scene even 
more heartrending than he had left behind him. The 
queen, who seemed as if every moment might be her 
last, suddenly collected her strength, and asked her son 
for his father and his brother Edward. He feared to 
tell her the whole dreadful truth, and tried to evade her 
inquiries by answering that they were well. With a 
deep sigh she replied, " I know it all, my son ; I know 
it all. I adjure you by this holy cross, by our near 
relationship, to tell me the whole truth." It was im- 
possible for him to resist such an appeal ; the young 
prince informed his mother that his father and his 
brother Edward had fallen in the neighbourhood of 
Alnwick, four days ago, and had been carried to Tyne- 
mouth, for interment. 

The dying queen's reply was a memorable one. 
Raising her eyes and her hands to heaven, she ex- 
claimed, " I return thee praise and thanks, Almighty 
God, for inflicting on me so grievous a calamity in my 
last moments ; it is the effect of thy will to purify me, 
by bearing it, from some sinful imperfections." 

Death was now rapidly advancing. The thoughts of 
the saint reverted to the sacred mysteries of religion, 
with which the habits of her life-time had made her 
familiar. Her last thoughts were expressed in the 
words of the prayer in the liturgy, immediately before 

c a 


the communion. " Lord Jesus Christ, who by the 
will of thy Father, and the co-operation of the Holy 
Spirit, hast given life to the world by thy death, deliver 
me " — her prayer was not finished on earth ; with the 
words, Deliver me, on her lips, the weary pilgrim passed 
to her everlasting communion with the Author and 
the Finisher of her faith. Her spirit returned to God,, 
so peacefully and so serenely, as to leave no doubt in 
the minds of her attendants that she had exchanged 
labour for rest, her exile on earth for her heavenly 
home. The excessive paleness of her countenance was 
succeeded by a rosy flush, such as those who loved her 
had sometimes seen there, while she was asleep ; and 
even now they could hardly think that she was dead. 
The day was the 16th of November, 1093; and the 
number of her years was only forty-six. 

A few days after the queen's holy departure, her 
precious body was carried to Dunfermline, amidst the 
tears and lamentations of her family and of the whole 
nation, and was interred near the altar of the Holy 
Cross, in the Abbey church which she had founded- 
" And there," to use the language in which her biogra- 
pher, with much pathos, concludes her beautiful story, 
"there she rested, in the place which had so long 
witnessed her painful watchings, her prayers and her 



Beginning of devotion to Queen Margaret as a Saint.— Her 
Canonisation.— And Translation.— Her tomb a place of Pil- 
grimage.— Cross Hill.— What became of her body, after the 
Reformation.— Her head preserved, and sent to the Low 
Countries.— Her office inserted in the Eoman breviary. — 
Changes in the day set apart for her festival. 

Our account of this holy queen's life would be mani- 
festly incomplete, without at least a short sketch of 
the rise and progress of the veneration in which her 
memory is now held, not only in Scotland, but wherever 
the Catholic faith is professed. We shall do our best 
to make it as brief and as exact as possible, premising, 
however, that the inquiry is beset with unusual diffi- 
culties as regards the dates of particular events. This 
is the first occasion on which a tolerably correct 
account of the subject has been gathered into one 
popular view. 

As long as we find that the soul of the holy queen 
was publicly prayed for, we may presume that the 
opinion of her sanctity had not yet gained ground 
sufficiently to warrant her being regarded as a saint, 
in the strictest sense of the word. Now, five years 
after her death, we find her son Edgar founding an 


Abbey at Coldingham "for tbe souls of his father, and 
of his mother," and of others. Fifteen years later than 
that, her son David founded another abbey, also for the 
souls of his father and mother. Hence, whatever 
private and even growing opinion there may have been 
about her sanctity, nothing had been determined, up 
to the date of 1113, tbat could authorise the omission 
of her name from such pious commemorations. 

About thirty years after her death, however, we 
discover the first trace of the rising feeling towards 
St. Margaret, as a glorified Saint, in a grant of land to 
Coldingham, by a nobleman who made it " for the soul 
of King Malcolm, and his deceased sons." From that 
time, that is, a year or two after the accession of her 
son David to the throne, and onwards through suc- 
ceeding reigns, we have tacit proofs of the same kind, 
to show that public opinion pointed to the lamented 
queen as to a holy soul for whom it were henceforth 
superfluous to pray, and for whom the honours of 
canonisation were probably in store. 

All through the century succeeding her death, this 
opinion prevailed and gathered strength ; other fifty 
years passed, and the time was come when Rome was 
to be requested to set its seal on the result of public 
opinion. William III, a descendant of the Saint, 
entered warmly into the cause ; the abbot of Dunferm- 
line was deputed to promote it, before the holy See. 
The bishops of Scotland added their unanimous tes- 


timony, and the earnest prayers of both clergy and 
people expressed the universal desire to see their 
blessed queen raised to her place among the canonised. 
The cause was remitted to a commission of the bishops, 
to take evidence, and to report upon it. Their hearty 
co-operation made this part of the process a short and 
an easy one ; and Innocent IV., in no long time, pro- 
nounced the decree of the queen's canonisation. 

All eyes were now turned from Rome to the stone 
tomb in the abbey church of Dunfermline, where the 
holy remains had lain for a hundred and fifty-eight 
years. The king was there, and his mother the dow- 
ager queen Joan, sister of the English Henry III. ; tbe 
bishops and abbots of the kingdom were in attendance, 
together with the great nobility, and a numerous depu- 
tation of the clergy and of the laity. The whole of the 
summer night, before the great day of Translation, was 
spent by the assembled multitude in prayer for the 
Divine blessing on the event of the next day. The 
19th of June, 1251, dawned on Scotland, and an august 
procession passed into the abbey church. Bishops, 
and clergy, and mitred abbots were preceded by the 
Cross, and the waving censer, and were followed by the 
king and his court, and by a joyful multitude ; bells 
without, and organs within the church accompanied the 
chanting of psalms and hymns, as the holy rite proceeded, 
and the bishops approached the tomb of the royal 
saint. It was opened, and her holy body was placed 


with great ceremony in a chest of silver, ornamented 
with gold and with precious stones. The church re- 
sounded with the invocation which has never since that 
day altogether ceased in Scotland, — Saint Margaret 
pray for us. It was the first public canonisation that 
Scotland had for many previous centuries witnessed • 
and, strange to say, it was the last. 

The honoured tomb of the saint now became an 
object of frequent pilgrimage. As devout persons 
approached Dunfermline from the south, they reached 
a rising ground about a mile from the ferry which 
they had to cross, whence they gained their first view 
of the abbey church, the goal of their journey. It be- 
came a custom among them to pause here for a few 
minutes' prayer ; a cross was erected on the spot, and 
gave the little knoll the name of Cross Hill, which it has 
retained even till our time. The steps of the cross 
might have been seen a very few years ago; perhaps 
they are still visible. 

From the day of her Translation, previously to the 
era of the Reformation, two days were set apart every 
year to the memory of St. Margaret; one, the day of 
her decease, November 16th, and the other, at an early 
period, June 19th, the day of ber translation. This 
second day, however, was changed to June 10th ; at 
what time, or for what reason, historians are at a loss 
to say. One competent authority, indeed, suggests 
that it may have been in consequence of a second trans- 


lation of the saint's head, which we know was at one 
time separated from her body, as was done with the 
relics of many saints. 

When the storm of the Reformation swept away so 
much of what the "ancient Christianity" had taught 
men to revere, the body of St. Margaret disappeared 
from the church at Dunfermline, and the church itself 
became a ruin. From this time, we must regard the 
relic of the saint's head as entirely separated from her 
body. On the unsupported authority of the Scotch 
historian, Conn, it has been alleged that the holy body 
of the queen, together with the body of her husband, 
was removed, at the request of Philip II. of Spain, to 
the royal chapel in his new palace of the Escurial, near 
Madrid. It is added that they were enclosed in the 
same chest, with suitable paintings, and an inscription 
containing their names. It is sufficient to say that the 
late bishop Geddes, who spent ten years of his life in 
Spain, and was on terms of intimacy with many of the 
Spanish court, could never find any evidence of this 
translation of the royal bodies. 

The head of St. Margaret we are able to trace with 
more certainty. It was removed from Dunfermline, in 
the first instance, to the Castle of Edinburgh, where 
the unfortunate Queen Mary thought herself happy to 
possess it. At the period of her flight into England, 
the sacred head was concealed in the Castle of Dury, 
by a Benedictine monk of that family. After thirty 


years it passed into the possession of the Scotch fathers 
of the Society of Jesus, who deputed one of their 
number, F. Kobb, to carry it over to Antwerp for 
greater safety. Its public veneration was sanctioned by 
the bishop in 1620. Three years afterwards, it was 
removed from Antwerp to the Scotch College at Douay, 
at that time under the charge of the Scotch Jesuits. 
The bishop of Arras, in the same year, publicly autho- 
rised its being treated as a true relic of the saint.* 

Meanwhile the Scottish refugees at Rome were not 
idle in promoting the honour of St. Margaret, especially 
among their Catholic countrymen. Innocent X. (1645), 
first granted a plenary indulgence to the faithful on 

* The relic of St. Margaret's head at Douay has a singular 
history attached to it. A Scotch Lady, of the name of Mowbray, 
presented the College with a rich silver bust, larger than life, 
and profusely ornamented with jewels, as a reliquary to con- 
tain the head of the saint. During the Commonwealth in 
England, the sons of Charles I. in their exile visited Douay, 
and asked to be shewn the relic of their illustrious ancestress. 

Nearly a century later, when the Jesuits were driven from 
France (1765), the reliquary disappeared from the Scotch 
College at Douay, and has never since been traced. The 
sacred relic, however, was not removed. It still adorned the 
College under the government of Scotch secular priests, until 
the great revolution laid the religion of France in ruins, (1793). 
The superiors, before their hurried departure from Douay, 
buried the head in their garden, hoping at some future day to 
return and claim it. But when the College was again visited 
by the Scotch, no trace of their valued relic could be found. 



St. Margaret's day, which was then kept on the 10th of 
Jane. The office and mass of St. Margaret had been 
confined, up to this time, to the limits of her own king- 
dom. In 1673, her office was inserted by Clement X. 
in the Roman Breviary, June 10th, as a semi-double 
festival, with the option to all clergymen not Scotchmen 
to say the ferial office on the day, if they preferred it. 
The saint was at the same time declared to be Patroness- 
of Scotland, second in order to St. Andrew the Apostle ; 
and her festival was appointed to be kept in Scotland as 
a double of the second class. The Pope granted this 
extension of the saint's office to the. petition of F. 
Aloysius Leslie, the Jesuit rector of the Scotch College 
in Rome, in conjunction with the agent of the Scotch 
Missionaries, and with the Baron Menzies of Pitfodels, 
who at that time represented the Duke of Muscovy at 
the court of Rome. 

Soon afterwards, and probably with a view to making 
the virtues of the holy queen better and more generally 
known, F. Leslie published a short history of her life, 
in the Italian language. 

The experience of a few years was sufficient to shew 
that some inconvenience attached to the celebration of 
St. Margaret's day on the 10th of June, owing to the 
frequent concurrence of some of the later movable fes- 
tivals on the same day. Innocent XI. therefore trans- 
ferred it to the 8th of July, (1678). 

Another, and a final change in the day was made by 


Innocent XII. (1693), at the instance of the unhappy- 
James II. of England and his consort, who petitioned 
his Holiness to restore the saint's day to the 10th of 
June, the hirthday of their no less unfortunate son, 
afterwards called by his adherents James III. of Eng- 
land. The pope at the same time renewed a decree of 
1091, which had made the festival of St. Margaret no 
longer optional to the whole Church, but as henceforth 
of precept. Thus the final crown was placed on the 
devotion which for nearly six centuries had been gra- 
dually gathering round the Scottish queen. 


Memorials of St. Margaret in Scotland. — Her chapel in Edin- 
burgh Castle.— Her well. — Queeiisferry.— Her altar in Rome. 
— Conclusion. 

It still remains to describe, in few words, some of the 
principal memorials of this admirable lady, still linger- 
ing in the country which she once adorned by her 

The picturesque old city of Edinburgh possesses 
nothing more deeply interesting than the Chapel of St. 
Margaret, in the Castle. Even if its style does not 
altogether warrant the opinion entertained by some per- 
sons, that it is the very same oratory as that in which 
St. Margaret made her last communion, the morning 


of her death, it was certainly erected within a short 
time of that event, while the memory of the saint was 
still fresh in the country. This little treasure of archi- 
tecture — for it is no less — had lain for years forgotten, 
until the intelligent research of Dr. Daniel Wilson, 
now professor at Toronto, laid open to the public as 
perfect an example of a Norman building as an anti- 
quary could desire. It has been restored in very good 
taste ; and no Catholic tourist should visit the capital 
of the north, without refreshing his devotion to St. 
Margaret by a visit to this little monument. It stands 
close to the spot whence her blessed spirit passed, so 
long ago, to the enjoyment of God. 

A little to the eastward of Edinburgh there remains 
a holy well, still called St. Margaret's. The tradition 
which connects it with the saint has been lost ; but it 
must evidently have been a place of popular resort in 
former times. The stone shrine in which it is enclosed 
is exquisitely designed and carved. It stands almost 
under the station of the North British Railway, called, 
from the well, St. Margaret's station. 

The great north road, which, before the invention of 
the railway, connected the capital of Scotland with 
Perth and the Highlands, conducts the traveller to the 
margin of the Frith of Forth, nine miles from Edin- 
burgh. A little town lies here, called Queensferry, 
from the circumstance of St. Margaret's constantly 
crossing the ferry at this place, on her journeys be- 


tween Edinburgh and Dunfermline. On a modern 
cast-iron well, which supplies the public with water, 
the tourist may see the coat of arms belonging to the 
queen's family, and generally known as the arms of St. 

As the Catholic tourist has come so far, he may now 
cross the ferry, as St. Margaret used to do, and a drive 
of a very few miles further will bring him to Dun- 
fermline, where she was married, where she worked 
out the task of her life, and where her remains rested 
in honour for nearly six hundred years. The abbey, as 
enlarged by her son David, is a noble ruin. The nave 
of the church stands, and the roofless frater-hall, or 
refectory of the monks. A visit to tbis place will 
suggest many reflections to any one who has learnt to 
know and value the memory of our blessed queen. 

Her name is found attached to other places, all over 
the country : to a well in Lanarkshire, for example ; to 
a bay on the coast of Fifeshire, and to a village in the 
Orkney Islands, called St. Margaret's Hope. 

The beautiful little church of St. Andrew, beloncinf* 
to the Scotch college in Rome, has three altars. The 
high altar is dedicated to the Apostle ; the altar on the 
Gospel side of the church belongs to the Virgin-mother 
of Jesus ; and opposite to it is the altar of St. Margaret. 

* A cross patonce, between five martlets (birds deprived of 
their claws and beaks). 


The picture above it, attributed to the pencil of a Polish 
artist, represents the saint in her sorrowful suspense 
during the last absence of her husband. She kneels in 
her oratory, praying and weeping ; her crown is laid 
aside ; and far away we may discern the fatal issue of 
the day at Alnwick. 

On reviewing the life of St. Margaret, one cannot 
fail to be struck with one pregnant fact. Her life was 
nearly equally divided between inactive suffering, and 
arduous and repulsive labour. Exile, comparative 
poverty, and vicissitude, occupied the first half of her 
life ; the task of civilising a race of barbarians pro- 
vided her with ample occupation of no easy kind, during 
the second. All was finished in her forty-seventh year. 
Whether in her earlier noviciate of humiliation, or in 
her maturer task, as Queen of Scotland, by redeeming 
the time, she made haste to enter into eternal rest 
While we admire, let us learn to imitate. Let our 
tribute to her memory be the fruitful desire of an affec- 
tion prompting us to follow the object of its regard. 



The author feels it to be due to his readers, not to take leave of 
them until he has very briefly indicated the sources of his 
information about St. Margaret ; more especially as, in a work 
of this popular kind, foot-notes are out of place. In the first 
place, he has largely drawn upon the Life, written by Theodoric, 
the queen's confessor, afterwards a monk at Durham. Much of 
what this writer relates, he saw with his own eyes ; the rest 
he obtained from other eye-witnesses. His story will be found 
in the Bollandist Lives (June 10). Besides this, the author 
acknowledges his obligation to a scai - ee tract, written by the 
late incomparable bishop Geddes, of whom this generation 
knows too little. Lastly, the author feels bound in justice to 
record, even in this inadequate manner, his debt to a learned 
Scottish priest who has devoted the unrequited labour of many 
years to St. Margaret's life, and who, it is sincerely to be 
wished, may be sufficiently encouraged ere long to give his 
learned collection to the world. For a full account of St. Mar- 
garet's Well, at Edinburgh, and of the recent disinterment of 
her chapel in the Castle, the reader is referred to Dr. D. Wilson'* 
Memorials of Edinburgh in the Olden Time. 


if* nf Bnxnt (Blhuhztlg, 




Thy likexess to the wise below, 
'ihy kindred with the great of old." 


Chap. I. 

Parentage of Elisabeth.— She is born.— Receives the " 
name of St. Elisabeth, her great-aunt. - She is affianced 
to the king of Portugal, and travels by land to her new 
kingdom ....... 

Chap. II. 

The young queen's daily life.— Birth of a daughter, and 
of a son and heir.— Frequent wars.— Elisabeth is a peace- 
maker.— Conference of kings at Turiaso. — Death of her 
daughter Constantia.— Story of the hermit.— War between 
the king of Portugal and his son the Infante.— Elisabeth 
is deprived of her income.— She makes peace several times 
between her husband and her son 10 

Chap. III. 

The queen's religious observances.— Her love of fasting. 
—Her charities.— Her industrial school at Santarem . 17 

D 2 


Chap. IV. 


The king dies. — The queen goes to Santiago. — Builds a 
convent at Coimbra, and resides near it. — Her daily life. — 
She goes to Estremoz, to make peace, and dies. — Her 
tcmb. — Her canonisation. — Miracle of the Roses. — Tale of 
Fridolin 21 




Parentage of Elisabeth. — She is born. — Eeceives the name <% 
St. Elisabeth, her great-aunt. — She is affianced to the king 
of Portugal, and travels by land to her own kingdom. 

When a son of St. Elisabeth of Hungary arrived, one 
day, as a page in the retinue of a certain prince, at the 
court of Queen Blanche, and of her son St. Louis, 
neither the king nor the queen, as we are told, could 
shew honour enough to the "dear St. Elisabeth," as 
she was represented by her youthful son. The queen 
called him to her, took him by the hand, kissed his 
brow, made him sit beside her, and spoke to him of 
his mother. 

On the present occasion, not a son, indeed, but a 
grand-niece of the saint of Marburg claims our re- 
gard ; and all the more powerfully, on account of the 
rarity with which either sanctity, or extraordinary 
intelligence is perpetuated in the blood. Forty yeara 
had passed since the holy princess of Thuringia had 
been taken early to her rest, when another Elisabeth. 


was born, to revive the name and the memory of her 
who had fallen asleep at Marburg. Andrew, king of 
Hungary, the father of the elder St. Elisabeth, had a 
younger daughter, Violanta, by his second marriage, 
who became the wife of James, king of Aragon, called 
The Conqueror. Their reign was a fortunate one ; 
the king doubled his possessions by the acquisition of 
Valentie and the Balearic Islands ; he also acquired 
Murcia, as the price of his assisting King Alphonso 
of Castile against the Moors. His son, Peter, the 
Infante of Aragon, married Constantia of Sicily, a 
grand-daughter of the Emperor Frederic II. ; and their 
youngest child was the second St. Elisabeth, the 
subject of this memoir. 

Her birth occurred in 1271, during the life of her 
grandfather. Her only sister had already received the 
name of her grandmother, Violanta ; the saint of 
Hungary had been canonised about forty years before ; 
the parents of our little princess, therefore, thought 
that they could not do better than keep the name of 
Elisabeth in the family ; so it was given to their little 
darling, at the font, no doubt with the expectation 
that her great-aunt would not be forgetful of her, in 

At the time of her birth, her grandfather King 
James and her father the Infante Peter were not on 
speaking terms. It seems, however, that the old king 
look a great fancy to his little grand-daughter, and 


predicted that she would surpass all the ladies of the 
house of Aragon. At the same time he made up his 
quarrel with his son Peter; and, five years later, 
finished his long reign, leaving the father of our little 
princess king of Aragon. She was old enough to 
remember, in later years, seeing two kings and three 
queens following her grandfather's remains to their 
place of sepulture at Poblete. 

When the young Elisabeth was nine years of ago, 
Alphonso, king of Portugal, dying, was succeeded by 
his son Dionysius. One of the earliest acts of his 
reign was to dispatch ambassadors to the court of 
Aragon, to solicit the hand of the princess Elisabeth, 
as his affianced bride. It so happened that they found 
ambassadors from two other courts, arrived on the 
same errand. Edward I. of England wished to 
secure our young princess for his son ; and Charles, 
king of Sicily, was a suitor, on behalf of his son 
Robert, who afterwards married Violanta, the elder 
sister of Elisabeth. It was with the greatest diffi- 
culty that her father could bring himself to part with 
his little favourite. Her sweetness of disposition was 
such, that he considered her very presence in his 
house a source of blessing to it, which he could ill 
spare. Even at this tender age, Elisabeth could not 
conceal her love of prayer and of almsgiving. 

State policy and the remonstrances of his counsellors 
at length compelled her father to make an election for 


her, among her suitors. He determined that a king 
actually reigning was a more eligible match for his 
daughter than the heir-apparent to a throne ; perhaps, 
too, the fact that Portugal was the nearest of the three 
kingdoms, may have helped him in his decision, as it 
promised him a better chance of sometimes seeing his 
beloved child. It seems, also, that she was related to 
both the English and the Sicilian princes, within the 
forbidden degrees, and her father declined the expense 
of procuring a dispensation from Borne. The matter 
was therefore decided in favour of Dionysius, king of 
Portugal. It was a barbarous kind of way, no doubt, 
of disposing of the future happiness of a mere child ; 
but it was the custom of the age, and, indeed, of much 
later times, especially among persons of high rank. 
Nor, after all, are we quite so sure that if things were 
looked into very narrowly, matches, quite as summarily 
made, would not be found, even now, and among 
persons of very middling rank indeed. 

The next step in the business was to send away the 
young queen to the court of her future husband. But 
now the question arose, How should she be sent ? A 
land-journey, through a country devastated by war, 
appeared to the Portuguese ambassadors rather too 
great a risk to run ; it was therefore proposed to send 
the bridal party by sea. On farther consideration, 
this was thought to be decidedly the more dangerous 
way of the two ; so a land-journey through Valencia 


and Castile, was resolved upon. The bishop of 
Valencia, and a company of nobles and of knights, 
•escorted the young queen, and her train of maids of 
honour, and of ladies in waiting. Her trousseau was 
of the costliest description. What became of it, we 
fchall see by and by. 

At a certain point in the journey, the king took an 
affectionate leave of his favourite child. He called 
himself the most unfortunate of men, to be thus 
robbed of his dearest treasure in life. He blessed her 
over and over again, adding that he had imparted to 
her all the advice he had to give ; and that in gifts of 
mind as well as in disposition and manners, she left 
him nothing to desire. And so they parted ; the little 
queen continuing her journey, with her maids and her 
ladies, surrounded by a cavalcade of Aragonese and 
Catalonian knights. On the confines of Portugal, they 
were met by a brother of king Dionysius, and by 
another cavalcade of Portuguese nobles and knights, 
to whom the Aragonese consigned their treasure. At 
Francoso king Dionysius was waiting to receive his 
bride ; their nuptials were celebrated, and a settled 
provision made for the royal maintenance of the queen. 
Yet it was barely eleven years since the name of 
St. Elisabeth had been given her at the font. 



The young queen's daily life. — Birth of a daughter, and of a 
son and heir. — Frequent wars. — Elisaheth is a peace-maker. 
— Conference of kings at Turiaso. — Death of her daughter 
Constantia. — Story of the hermit. — War between the king of 
Portugal and his son the Infante. — Elisaheth is deprived of 
her income. — She makes peace several times between her 
husband and her son. 

This tender young creature, thus early assigned so 
conspicuous a position, began her new life by making 
such arrangements as should divide her time between 
her domestic duties and the service of God. Instead 
of the inexperience of eleven years, people seemed to 
see a degree of wisdom not often found even at five 
and twenty, or at thirty years. When she was not 
hearing mass, or reciting the canonical hour of prayer, 
she was spinning among her maidens and her ladies ; 
or she was doing something for the poor, or trying to 
set people right who had fallen into trouble, or become 
the victims of oppression. The income which the 
king had settled on her found its way, in great part, 
into the hands of the poor, and into convents, and the 
houses of decayed ladies who were too high spirited to 

In her eighteenth year, her first child, Constantia, 
was born. Three years afterwards, the kingdom was 


rejoiced by the birth of an heir to the throne, at 
Coimbra. Alplionso, the young Infante of Portugal, 
afterwards married Beatrix, a daughter of Sancho, 
king of Castile. This young princess was, like her 
mother-in-law, sent as a child to the Portuguese court, 
and educated by Elisabeth as her future daughter. 

King Dionysius, although kind and indulgent to 
his queen, was still more indulgent to himself, and led 
an irregular life, to the great injury and sorrow of 
Elisabeth. Her greatness of soul was never more 
remarkably evinced than in her way of managing him. 
She appeared blind and deaf to all that she dis- 
approved of in her husband, never listening to stories 
about him, and never reproaching him. She had calcu- 
lated well in her estimate of his character. Pieproaches 
would only have hardened him ; whereas her silence 
affected him with remorse for his ingratitude ; and her 
forbearance "was rewarded by his abandoning the 
irregular practices of which she had never complained, 
but to God. 

There were in those days rather too many small 
kings in the limited area of the Spanish peninsula, to 
permit the country long to enjoy the blessings of peace. 
And, failing an independent sovereign to quarrel with, 
any one of the four peninsular kings was ready, on the 
shortest notice, to go to war with his brothers, or even 
with his eldest son. If a king of Aragon failed to find 
in his next neighbour cf Navarre, or of Castile, an 


enemy ready to his hand, he had always his son, the 
Infante, to pick a quarrel with. If a king of Portugal 
found all of his three neighbours too pacific for his 
wishes, his father's sons were nearer home, and more 
at his mercy. The life of kings was too generally 
one long brawl, continued at the ruinous expense of 
the country and of their unhappy subjects. 

One of the cases which we have mentioned actually 
happened, within no long time after Elisabeth's coming 
to Portugal. Her husband and his brother Alphonso 
went to war with each other, and much blood would 
have been wasted in the quarrel, had not Elisabeth 
engaged the good offices of the counsellors and prelates 
of the kingdom to make up matters between the 
brothers. And further to facilitate the business, she 
gave up the part of her revenue which she drew from 
the town of Cintra, and persuaded the king in other 
waj 7 s to increase tbe income of his brother. 

Constantia, her eldest daughter, became the wife of 
Ferdinand IV., king of Castile (1301). The throne 
of Aragon was then filled by Elisabeth's brother, 
James. War, almost as a matter of course, was 
engaged in, by those two sovereigns, against each 
other. Its nominal cause was a dispute about the 
possession of certain towns and lands of which the 
Moors had been deprived. The art of making peace, 
in which Elisabeth excelled, was again put in requisi- 
tion ; her efforts were seconded by the imminent risk 


of an attack from the Moors, while the Christian 
forces were destroying each other. Our gentle queen 
prevailed on the belligerents to meet at Turiaso, a 
town on the confines of Aragon and Castile, and to 
submit their claims to the arbitration of the king of 
Portugal. Elisabeth accompanied her husband to tne 
conference (July, 1304) ; the queens of Castile and of 
Aragon also repaired to the place of meeting, attended 
by the flower of the nobility of both kingdoms. It 
was quite a family meeting for Elisabeth. She found 
her brother of Aragon, and she met her daughter of 
Castile. Her spirit of peace pervaded the proceed- 
ings of the conference ; the decision of Dionysius 
gave satisfaction to all parties ; new alliances were 
formed, and the assembly dispersed in perfect har- 
mony. Elisabeth and her husband, however, pro- 
longed their absence from home until September, 
returning to Portugal in time for the Nativity of the 
Blessed Virgin. It is in allusion to her repeated 
successes in hushing the storm of war, that Elisabeth 
is called in her office in the Pioman Breviary the 
Mother of Peace, and of her country. 

The next incident in her family history is the mar- 
riage of her son Alphonso with Beatrix of Castile, a 
sister of Ferdinand IV. The event was celebrated at 
Lisbon, with great rejoicing (1309). In no long time 
after, however, our queen had to mourn the premature 
decease of her daughter Constantia, queen of Castile. 


A singular tale is related, in connexion with this sad 
<3vent. Elisabeth and her husband happened, soon 
afterwards, to be travelling from Santarera to Lisbon, 
and on tbe way they stopped at Azambuja. Here the 
queen was met by a hermit, whom no one knew, and 
who cried out, In tbe name of God, my royal lady, I 
pray you to grant me an audience ; for I have some- 
thing important to tell you, and your attendants will 
not permit me to approach you. The queen having 
invited him to deliver his message, he went on to say 
that her deceased daughter Constantia had appeared 
to him in his cell several times, and had enjoined him 
to inform her mother of her detention in purgatory, 
and to beg that a mass might be said daily for her, for 
one year. The hermit had said this loud enough for 
the courtiers to hear. When he had finished, they 
began to chaff him, and to say, If Queen Constantia 
is in purgatory, is it a likely thing that she should 
appear to thee, rather than to her father or her 
mother '? The hermit, meanwhile, disappeared ; no 
one could give any account of him, and he was never 
seen again. Elisabeth, on conferring with her hus- 
band, resolved to act on the instructions she had 
received. She engaged a pious priest, of the name of 
Mendez, to say mass for her daughter, daily, for a year. 
At the expiry of the time fixed, Elisabeth was at 
Coimbra, and one night had a dream about her 
daughter, who appeared, to her in white clothiug, and 


thanked her for procuring her deliverance from the 
penal flames of purgatory. Elisabeth had quite for- 
gotten that the year was expired, until Mendez came, 
next morning, to remind her of it, and to speak about 
continuing to say mass. She was much comforted 
about her beloved daughter, and gave thanks to God. 

A few more years brought back the miseries of war ; 
and, this time, the king of Portugal found an enemy 
in his eldest son, the Infante Alphonso. Secret rnea- 
f*ures were taken by the king to surprise his son at 
Cintra, in the night-time ; not even Elisabeth was 
made privy to the scheme. She was first alarmed by 
her husband's suddenly leaving her in the night, at 
Lisbon, and setting out, attended by troops ; and at 
once suspecting the truth, she managed to dispatch a 
courier to Cintra, who rode faster than the soldiers, and 
reached it in time to give the young prince warning. 
He thus escaped from the trap laid for him, and went 
straight to Lisbon, to his mother, whom he had not 
6een for a long time. The queen kept him with her 
for a while, and spoke to him very seriously of his 
duty to the king, his father ; and so dismissed him. 

The most violent of the king's counsellors instigated 
him to punish this interference of the queen's as 
virtually abetting the young prince in his rebellion. 
Lionysius, still smarting under his late disappointment, 
too readily listened to the evil counsels of his courtiers, 
and sent Elisabeth an order to remove at once to 


Alanguera, at the same time depriving her of all her 
sources of income. This bitter trial found our holy- 
queen prepared for the will of God. She at once 
obeyed the peremptory orders of her husband, and 
abandoned her court at Lisbon. Presently, numbers 
of the nobility flocked to her new residence, to offer 
her their castles for a home, and their swords to regain 
her rights. She thanked them very graciously for 
their good intentions, but declined all their offers, 
alleging her resolution to remain at the absolute dis- 
posal of the king. So dismissing her impetuous 
defenders, she collected about her a number of pious 
women, who passed their time with her, in fasting and 
abstinence, in prayer and the public recitation of the 
praises of God. By and by, her humility and mode- 
ration were acknowledged by the king, and she was 
restored to her rights as his queen. 

But the war with the Infante still continued, to the 
bitter grief of the queen. Coimbra was held by her 
son, and his father was besieging it. Elisabeth had 
influence enough to bring about a meeting between 
them at Lieria, where the prince made an apology for 
his conduct, renewed his fealty to his father, and 
received back his income. 

Jealousies subsequently arising again between them, 
the king rode out of Lisbon one day, to meet his son, 
and to forbid him to enter the city. The result was a 
fight between their respective followers. Elisabeth, 


tearing of it, rode out on a mule, into the thickest of 
the fray ; none of her ladies ventured to follow her, yet 
she pushed on alone, through the storm of darts and 
stones, till she found the king ; and then to the other 
side, in quest of the prince. She brought them once 
more together; the young Infante submitted, and 
kissed his father's hand ; the king gave him his bless, 
ing, and so they parted, finally reconciled, at the 
instance of this heroic lady. 

chapter in. 

The queen's religious observances.— Her love of fasting.— Her 
charities.— Her industrial school at Santarem. 

The practice of religious duties was by no means the 
least arduous part of Elisabeth's daily life. She car- 
ried it far beyond the limits of mere obligation, im- 
pelled to what must appear to many good people to have 
been excessive, by the ardour of her devotional feelincr 
and by her profound spirit of penitence. Not satisfied 
with reciting the Divine Office every day, as it is in th« 
Breviary, this holy queen also daily recited the Office of 
the Blessed Virgin and of the Dead. She carried 
about with her on ber journeys, a portable oratory, in 
charge of her chaplains and her clerks, who chanted 
Mgh mass every day in her presence. She also 



attended the service of vespers, every afternoon, in her 

But the extent to which she carried the practice of 
fasting seems to belong rather to the cloister of a 
severe order than to the court of a reigning sovereign. 
During her husband's life she was not permitted to 
carry the severity of her practice as far as she wished, 
but was obliged to restrict herself to three fast days in 
the week, and to Lent and Advent, and the eves of 
saints. When she became free to follow her own incli- 
nation in this respect, she kept every Friday and 
Saturday in the year, and the vigils of the Apostles, of 
the Holy Virgin, and of the saints to whom she had a 
special devotion, as fast-days, on bread and water. In 
like manner, besides Advent and Lent, she observed 
an additional Lent in the year, from St. John Baptist's 
day (June 24) to the Assumption ; and yet a third, 
called the Lent of the Angels, from the Assumption 
till St. Michael's day. There could not have been 
thirty days in the year on which she tasted anything 
better than bread and water. 

Her piety also frequently incited her to visit holy 
places, and churches served by religious communities 
distinguished for their devout lives. The poor in the 
neighbourhood of these places, and all along the road 
to them, reaped a rich harvest from her bounty at 
such times; indeed, such was the reputation of her 
sanctity, that many persons used to feign poverty for 


the occasion, in order to receive a trifle from her 
hands. The queen was a constant visitor of the sick, 
smoothing their pillows for them, and prescribing for 
their maladies, for she had some skill that way. 
Among her poor friends, she manifested especial com- 
passion for those who were too highspirited or too r 1 y 
to ask for alms ; she said that they were often woi ,ie 
off than the poor ; and many of them she had the 
happiness of restoring to competence and their former 
position in society. She conferred many favours on 
poor young women, by clothing them, and settling 
dowries upon them to facilitate their marriage. And 
all this was accomplished with as much secrecy as was 
possible. For this holy lady shrank from the whisper 
of her own praises. 

In her many journeys about her kingdom, no sick 
or poor person and no prisoner had to complain of 
being overlooked by the queen in her charities and 
her alms. Nor among the useful applications of her 
income did she refuse to reckon assistance given to 
various public works ; such as churches, hospitals, 
bridges, and fountains. Nothing, in short, that had 
for its object the good of her people, failed to secure 
her co-operation. 

During Holy Week, she redoubled her alms and her 
works of mercy. On Maunday Thursday, she washed 
the feet of poor women ; the following day, she dis- 
tributed alms among a multitude of the poor; and 

a 2 


while attending the services of Good Friday, she 
manifested the grief of her soul at the remembrance of 
the passion and death of Jesus Christ. The practice 
of frequently communicating was not so common as it 
is now ; we must therefore not be surprised to be told 
that Elisabeth received holy communion only three 
times in the year, at Christmas, Easter, and at Pente- 
cost. It would be well if some of our daily communi- 
cants approached a little more nearly the perfection of 
her Christian life. 

Among the religious foundations which owed their 
endowment to the charity of the queen, there was one 
which has an especial interest for us, as it seems to 
have anticipated the application of industrial training 
to the education of poor children, — a principle which 
has received the highest sanction in our own day. 
£he bishop of Eidania, an episcopal see afterwards 
translated to Guarda, had begun to build an hospital 
Cor the poor foundlings, in the town of Santarem ; but 
finding himself on his death-bed before the hospital 
Iras finished, he entreated the queen to take it under 
her patronage, and fulfil his intentions, for the love 
of God. Elisabeth readily undertook the duty thus 
bequeathed to her. The hospital was enlarged, and 
more amply endowed; and became the home of poor 
foundlings. When the queen went down to visit them, 
she served them at table with her own hands. 

Under her directions, as soon as the children were 


old enough, they were taught useful trades, by which 
they might earn their livelihood ; and as soon as they 
were able to do so, they ceased to be a burden on the 
house, until they fell sick, when the hospital again 
took charge of them. 


The king dies. — The queen goes to Santiago. — Builds a con- 
vent at Coimbra, and resides near it. — Her daily life. — She 
goes to Estremoz, to make peace, and dies. — Her tomb. — 
Her canonisation. — Miracle of the Roses. — Tale of Fridolin. 

Such was the tenour of our holy queen's married life, 
until it pleased God to deprive her of her husband. 
During the long illness which preceded his death, the 
queen waited on him like a domestic servant, dis- 
charging the duties of a sick nurse with unwearied 
affection. He died, at last, in the castle of Sautarem, 
when the year 1325 was hardly a week old ; and was 
buried at the Cistercian convent of Odivellas, which 
he had founded, near Lisbon. 

In the first hour of her widowhood, Elisabeth a» 
6umed the dress of a Frauciscan nun. The following 
6ummer she made a pilgrimage to Santiago, in time to 
keep the festival of the apostle St. James at his tomb. 
At high mass on that day, celebrated by the arch- 
bishop, the queen offered her royal crown, together 


with robes of the most costly kind, which she had 
worn at state ceremonies, the richest drinking vessels 
of her table, and stuffs of untold value from the looms 
of Portugal and of Aragon. On her return from the 
;mb of the apostle, she attracted vast crowds of people 
about her ; for her reputation had preceded her, and 
they nocked together to see her as she passed. In 
going to Santiago she had avoided this, by keeping her 
destination secret, till she was almost within sight 
of the place. 

At the expiry of a year from the king's death, 
Elisabeth is found at the convent of Odivellas, cele- 
brating his anniversary, in company with the young 
king Alphonso, her son, and the nobility and clergy of 
the kingdom. Returning to Coimbra, where she then 
chiefly resided, she gave directions to have all her silk 
dresses, some of them richly interwoven with gold, cut 
up, and made into vestments, for distribution among 
the churches, according to the poverty of their ward- 
robes. Her gold plate was also broken up, to make 
chalices, crosses, thuribles and lamps. The remainder 
of her jewels she divided between her daughter-in-law 
Queen Beatrix, and her grand-daughters, Queen Mary 
of Castile, and Queen Eleanor of Aragon. 

The queen had lately commenced a great under- 
taking at Coimbra; a convent for the nuns of St. Clare. 
We are told that she was an excellent judge of archi- 
tecture, and frequently made suggestions which were 


found to improve her architect's plans. While the 
building was in progress, she gathered around her a 
few pious women, who wished to devote themselves to 
the service of God, and in due time to enter the con- 
vent. Among them was a lady of royal blood, a cousin 
of the queen's, who took a large fortune with her into 
the convent, and became its second abbess. The 
church was the first part of the work that was finished. 
It was named after St. Clare, the disciple of St. Francis. 
The queen directed that her own tomb should be pre- 
pared in it. The completion of the refectory, the 
dormitory, the infirmary, and the kitchen soon fol- 
lowed, and the whole was surrounded with a high wall. 
In the immediate neighbourhood of the convent, a 
suitable residence was built for the queen and her 
attendants, and close to it a chapel, and two hospitals, 
one for fifteen poor men, and the other for a similar 
number of poor women. 

When the whole establishment was finished, the 
queen took serious counsel with her advisers, as to her 
own future life, whether she would do better to enter 
the convent herself, or remain without, dispensing 
her charities among numbers of the indigent. Her 
advisers represented to her, that in the circumstances 
of the case, she would do more good by serving God in 
the world. She at once resigned her favourite plan of 
becoming a daughter of St. Clare, and made her 
arrangements accordingly. The day when the nuns 


took possession of their new convent, Elisabeth an6 
her daughter-in-law, Queen Beatrix, by special per- 
mission obtained from Rome, were present in the 
refectory. When the nuns were all seated, the queens 
carried their food from the kitchen, and served it to 
them at table. 

Elisabeth then took up her residence in the new 
buildings close by. She spent much of her time in 
the church and among the nuns, singing the Divine 
Office with them every day, and encouraging them in 
the service of God. The neighbouring hospitals sup- 
plied her with many opportunities of active duty 
among the sick. This mode of life began about six 
years after her husband's death. 

Let us follow her through one of her ordinary days. 
Five of the nuns of St. Clare resided with her ; she 
rose with them before dawn, to recite matins, lauds 
and prime. After prime, they prepared the altar in 
the queen's private oratory, for mass. When this 
private mass was finished, the queen repaired to the 
chapel of her residence, where two high masses in 
succession were sung in her presence, her household 
also attending. One of these masses was always a 
mass of requiem for the soul of her husband. By the 
time that they were finished, and the rest of the Hours 
sung, it was the hour for going to dinner. 

After dinner the queen gave audience to all sorts of 
people, who had business with her; to the super- 


intendents of her works in various places, to religious 
or to secular persons, who had petitions to present ; in 
short, to all, whether rich or poor, who had a mind to 
address her on any subject. The principles of the 
largest charity regulated her reception of persons who 
frequented her levees. 

In the afternoon, vespers were sung in her chapel ; 
and when it was not a fast-day (which was not often), 
the queen went to supper. This repast was imme- 
diately followed by Complin, and the Office of the Dead. 
Then she retired to her bed-chamber, and her nuns 
and her household to theirs. But this pious soul did 
not retire to sleep. She generally spent the greater 
part of the night in meditation and prayer, and often 
rose from bed to resume her spiritual exercises. So 
strong is the yearning of holy souls towards that 
place where their communion with their Lord is sub- 
ject to no interruption from the demands of nature for 
repose ; where there is no night, because there is no 
weary body to repair, no exhausted spirits to renovate. 

The last year but one of her life the queen once 
more visited the tomb of St. James at Santiago ; but 
this time she went on foot, with few attendants, 
dressed like a poor pilgrim, and begging her way 
along the road, from house to house, both going and 
returning ; — an astonishing effort for a woman sixty- 
four years of age. By this means she escaped the 


erowds which had distressed her humility on her 
ibrmer journey. 

A great opportunity for the inexhaustible charity of 
the queen occurred, while she was residing at her con- 
vent, near Coimbra. Her kingdom was visited by a 
famine, which destroyed numbers of the poor. The 
liberality of Elisabeth was so profuse, in her efforts to 
mitigate the sufferings of her people, as to provoke the 
remonstrances of her attendants that she left nothing 
for herself and her household. 

The latest act of her beautiful life was faithful to the 
spirit of peace which it had been her mission, for more 
than fifty years, to propagate among the crowned heads 
of the Spanish peninsula. The rumour reached her 
in her retreat at Coimbra that her son, Alphonso of 
Portugal, was about to plunge the kingdom in the 
disasters of war, in consequence of a quarrel with her 
grandson, Alphonso of Castile. Her immediate im- 
pulse was to sacrifice the calm routine of her life, and 
set out at once in search of the belligerents, with the 
intention of using her old influence to promote peace. 
Her attendants urged the inexpediency of her under- 
taking a long journey, during the hot season, and at 
her advanced age. But in such a cause no difficulties 
could turn her from her purpose. In this her last 
effort she received the crown of her many virtues. 
She had got as far as Estremoz when the king, her 


son, met her ; but here she was taken ill with a tumour 
in her arm. On the Monday after, she was unable to 
rise for mass, Queen Beatrix, her daughter-in-law, 
attended her very carefully, rallying her spirits, and 
doing all she could to cheer her mother, and alleviate 
her sufferings. While Queen Beatrix was sitting by 
tbe invalid's bed, Elisabeth suddenly turning to her 
companion, said, " My daughter, pray give place to 
this lady who is coming." "What lady, my augus' 
mother ?" was the answer of Beatrix, who saw no one. 
" That is she," rejoined the sick queen, " who is 
coming to me, in a white dress." Still Queen Beatrix- 
could see nothing. Neither did Elisabeth say more ; 
they were therefore left to conjecture that the Mother 
of Jesus was near, to comfort her sick daughter, who 
had always cherished a warm affection for the Queen 
of Angels. 

On the Thursday the queen saw her confessor early 
in the morning, and heard mass in her chamber. 
When it was finished, she rose without assistance, and 
went out of her chamber to the altar where her con- 
fessor was then saying mass, and kneeling down she 
received holy communion with great devotion and many 
tears. In the afternoon of the same day, she was 
conversing with the king, after vespers, and as the 
physicians maintained that there was no danger in her 
complaint, she begged her son to leave her and go to 
supper. He had supped already ; but he went outside 


the door of her chamber with the physicians. While 
they were standing outside the door, the queen rose 
from her bed, and stood leaning against it ; all of a 
sudden she began to sink. Her attendants called 
the king, who ran in, took his mother's hands and 
kissed them. She presently recovered a little, spoke 
of her fainting, and conversed awhile with the king 
about the princess Eleanor, her favourite grandchild, 
and about all her grandchildren. While they were 
conversing, the queen feeling her end approaching 
began to pray — " Mary, Mother of Grace, Mother of 
Mercy, protect me from my enemy, and receive me in 
the hour of my death." She then repeated the Apostle's 
Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and other prayers ; and as 
6he went on, she grew fainter and fainter, till her 
words wei*e no longer audible. Thus, still praying, 
she ended her life of prayer in the castle of Estremoz, 
<m Thursday, July 4th, 1336. 

She had often entreated our Lord that her son 
might be present at her death, and even this little 
favour was granted her. When her holy soul had 
departed, her eyes and her mouth are said to have 
closed of their own accord. 

Next day the funeral train set out to convey her 
precious remains to her convent at Coimbra. The 
journey occupied seven days, and it was regarded as 
something more than a natural occurrence, that, not- 
withstanding the great heat, the body of the queen 


exhibited no signs of decay on its arrival at its last 
resting-place. It was laid with great ceremony in the 
tomb which the queen in her lifetime had prepared for 
it, among her nuns. 

Many instances of divine interposition are recorded, 
in behalf of devout persons who visited that tomb, 
during the two following centuries. It was reserved 
for Leo X. at the instance of Emmanuel, king of 
Portugal, to permit the public honours due to a saint 
to be paid to Elisabeth within the city and the diocese 
of Coimbra ; a privilege which was confirmed by 
Paul IV. and extended to the whole of Portugal. 

The inquiries set on foot by the eminent biographer 
of Saints, the Carthusian Surius, for his Lives, seem 
to have much promoted the knowledge and the honour 
of Elisabeth both in Portugal and throughout the 
Catholic world ; in fact, the collections made for him 
ultimately became the basis of the process of her 
canonisation. In 1612, the tomb of the saint was 
opened in presence of a commission of inquiry, con- 
sisting of clergymen and of medical men, and the body 
was found to be incorrupt. The decree of her canonisa- 
tion was finally pronounced by Urban VTTT., 1625. 
Innocent XII., seventy years later, changed the day of 
her festival to the 8th of July, on which it is now 
universally kept, and made the recitation of her office 
of obligation throughout the church. The beautiful 


office in the Roman breviary is attributed to the pen of 
Urban VIII. himself. 

St. Elisabeth is perhaps best known out of her own 
kingdom by the miracle of the roses — a legend which 
is, however, not found in the oldest biography, and 
which is also attributed to St. Elisabeth of Hungary, 
&nd to B. Germain Cousin, the Shepherdess of Tou- 
iouse, lately beatified. The legend relates, that on 
one occasion, wishing to conceal from her husband the 
alms she was distributing to a number of poor persons, 
her lap was found to be full of roses, in the winter 
time. Another anecdote is recorded of her, which 
must be familiar to some of our readers, in Schiller's 
tale of Fridolin. It is to the following effect : 

A courtier, desirous of making mischief between 
Elisabeth and the king, accused her of too great in- 
timacy with a young page. The king believed the 
tale, and prepared a terrible punishment for the youth. 
Orders were given to the workmen about a smelting 
furnace, to throw into the boiling metal the first 
messenger who should come to them from the king, 
on a particular morning. The page was accordingh 
directed to go to the furnace, and ask the men if tb\ 
royal order had been obeyed. As he hastened to it, 
unconscious of his fate, he heard a chapel bell in the 
forest tinkling for mass. He paused, entered the 
chapel, and served the mass. The king, meanwhile, 
impatient to hear that his orders had been obeyed, 


dispatched the accusor of the page to the furnace, to 
make inquiry. He reached it before the young man 
had left the chapel, was seized by the workmen, in 
obedience, as they imagined, to the king's orders, and 
amidst vain struggles and protests was hurled into the 
lake of molten metal. When the page arrived, he was 
informed that the king's commands had been obeyed ; 
and he hastened back with the message, to the horror 
ana confusion of his master. 

The count stood still, an icy chill 

Crept o'er each shaking limb : 
M But Robert to the wood I sent — 

Hast thou not met with him?" 
" No trace of Robert, sir, I saw, 

By wood or field or road ! " 
" Now," cried the count in sudden awe. 

" This is the hand of God ! " 

with gentler mien than his wont had been 

His servant's hand he took, 
And he led him to his wondering wife 

With a chang'd and thoughtful look : 
" This child is pure and clean of heart — 

No angel purer is: 
Though I was led by treacherous art, 

God and his hosts are his ! " 



The reader who desires more particular information, will find 1 
it in the Life of the Saint, edited by Father Conrad Janning, 
S. J., Acta SS. Bolland., July 4th. The author of this Life, 
though anonymous, is presumed to have been nearly contem- 
porary with the Saint. The MS. written in Portuguese, was 
found in the convent of St. Clare, at Coimbra. The learned 
notes of F. Janning must be received with caution, where they 
refer to English history ; as for example, where he makes 
Edward IV. to reign from 1273—1307 ; and Edward VI., the 
Sovereign of England, at the queen's death in 1336 ! Edward I. 
and Edward III. would have been nearer the truth. 

In Portugal, as in Spain, the name of Elisabeth, by a slight 
transposition of letters, is frequently called Isabella: Elisabe — 
Isabele — Isabella. 


lit nf Satnt €lot%Ms f 


" The best things that the best belieye 
Are in her pace so brightly writ, 
The faithless, seeing her, conceive 
Not only Heaven, but hope op it." 




Rise of the Franks.— Clo vis is their chief.— St Remi. — 
Clovis marries Clotildis of Burgundy.— Her narrow escape 3 


Trials of the young queen.— Her infant children.— Battle 
of Tolbiac— Vow of Clovis.— His baptism . , . . 9 


Clovis the eldest son of the church.— He kills Alaric. — 
Is made a patrician of the empire.— Commences a chuits^ 
over the tomb of St. Genevieve at Paris.— Provincial council 
at Orleans.— Clevis dies.— His grandson murdered. - Story 
of young Clotildis. — The queen retires to Tours.— Her 
death ...,..»»••• 




Rise of the Franks. — Clovis is their chief. — St. Remi. — Clovis 
marries Clotildis of Burgundy. — Her narrow escape. 

The cradle of the German tribe celebrated in history 
as the Franks, or the Freemen, lay to the east of the 
Rhine, in the country bounded by the Maine and the 
Weser, and now divided into Nassau, Hesse-Cassel, 
Westphalia, and part of Hanover. Two centuries and 
a half after Christ, they are found making frequent 
excursions across the Rhine, partly in search of plunder, 
partly of adventure. The Roman governors of Gaul 
had enough to do to keep them at bay, and were often 
glad to bargain for their services, as an advanced 
guard along the Rhine, to oppose the savage tribes 
lying to the eastward, the Vandals, the Goth?, and 
the Huns. These hordes at length grew irrepressible, 
and the Franks were gradually pushed westwards 
before them. The last part of Gaul that remained in 
possession of the Romans lay to the north of the river 

f 2 


Loire, between the Rhine and the German ocean. To 
the south of the Loire the rising kingdom of Burgundy 
occupied the eastern part, and the Gothic tribes the 
western and southern parts of modern France and the 
Mediterranean shore. 

The German tribe of the Franks by degrees overran 
the whole of the country between the Rhine and the 
Atlantic, and gave the name of France to the ancient 
Gallia of the Romans. As a race, however, they seem 
to have been chiefly confined to the modern countries 
of Holland and Belgium, and that part of France lying 
to the north of the Loire. Their other possessions, to 
the south of that rivei - , partook more of the nature of a 
military occupation. As a race, they never fully ab- 
sorbed into their own, the incongruous tribes, which 
were forced to yield to their arms. 

The transition of the Franks from a predatory tribe 
into a rising nation must be assigned to the period of 
Clovis I., the founder of what is called the Merovingian 
race of kings, from their military eminence, towards 
the close of the fifth century (486.) On the death of 
his father at Tournay, then the chief seat of the tribe, 
Clovis found himself at their head, and although still 
very young, he soon made the name of the Franks 
terrible to his neighbours. His first great success- 
was at Soissons, where he dealt a fatal blow to the 
declining power of the Romans beyond the Alps, and 
compelled Syagrius, the governor of Gaul, to take 


refuge at Toulouse with Alaric, chief of the Visigoths. 
Flushed with success, Clovis sent an imperative com- 
mand to Alaric to deliver up the fugitive ; a command 
which the barbarian felt it most prudent to obey. 
Syagrius was sent back a prisoner, and after awhile 
was secretly put to death by the terrible Frank. 
From Soissons Clovis fought his way to the Seine, 
and thence as far as tbe Loire. Idolater as he was, 
he had policy enough to make him respect the Chris- 
tian institutions which be found in his way ; and from 
his experience of the difficulty of repressing the rapa- 
cious habits of his followers, he generally contrived to 
avoid the large towns on his route, where the property 
of tbe Christian church was chiefly accumulated. In 
this way he refrained from entering the town of Rheims, 
at that time the residence of St. Remi. Some of the 
Frank soldiers, however, not so scrupulous, managed 
to pillage the church, and, among their booty, to carry 
off a vase of exquisite workmanship. The bishop sent 
a deputation of his clergy to Clovis, to request the 
restoration of this treasure. The chief received them 
with courtesy, invited them to follow him to Soissons, 
where the booty was collected, and compelled the thief 
to restore what he had taken. 

An attack of the Thuringians, a German tribe to 
the eastward of the Weser, on the Frank possessions 
beyond the Rhine, next occupied the military talent of 
Clovis. As before with the Romans, he again drove 


everything before him, and made his name feared from 
the Weser to the Pyrennees. 

It now became part of the policy of Clovis to ally 
himself by marriage with a princess of some Gallic 
family. He had already established a friendly under- 
standing with the little court of Burgundy, as a mutual 
protection against their common enemy and neighbour, 
the formidable Alaric. The emissaries of Clovis to 
this court had returned to him, full of the praises 'of 
the princess Chrotildis, or Clotildis, a niece of Gon- 
debaud, the reigning king. Her father Chilperic, her 
mother, and all of her brothers but one had been dis- 
patched by Gondebaud, to clear his own way to the 
throne ; he had hitherto spared the lives of his two 
nieces, thinking them too young to be dangerous to 
him. Clotildis lived at her uncle's seat ; her sister 
Chrona was in a convent. 

Although surrounded in her childhood by Arians, 
young Clotildis was trained in the Catholic faith ; and 
as her character developed itself with- her years, her 
unaffected piety added an indescribable charm to the 
gifts of mind and of person with which nature had 
endowed her. The terrible tragedy of her childhood 
had early taught her the vanity of rank, especially 
during a period of lawlessness, like the age in which 
she lived. The reputation of the handsome princess 
of Burgundy for sweetness, for innocence and for wit, 
made her an object of interest to neighbouring courts. 


Clovis, hearing of her attractive qualities, sent another 
embassy to solicit the hand of the Princess Clotildis 
from her uncle. The guilty conscience of Gondebaud 
suggested to him the risk that might attend the mar* 
riage of his niece with the king of the Franks ; what 
if her husband should also espouse her quarrel, and 
vindicate her father's wrongs and her own with his 
terrible sword ? On the other hand, the guilty man 
felt the danger of irritating so redoubtable a warrior as 
Clovis, by a refusal, to be almost equal to the danger 
of acceding to his request. Gondebaud therefore tem- 
porised. He affected willingness to accept the Frank 
as a suitor for his niece, but raised a difficulty against 
the marriage of a Christian princess with an idolator. 
The representative of Clovis, who had by this time 
secured the consent of Clotildis herself, made light of 
this objection ; and the king, reduced to his last shift, 
pretended to resent the acceptance which his niece 
had accorded to the proposal, without his concurrence. 
The young princess behaved with much spirit on the 
occasion ; she longed for deliverance from the tyranny 
of her wicked uncle, and therefore bade the Frank 
ambassador urge his suit with all the energy possible, 
so as to anticipate the return of a courtier of her 
uncle's from Constantinople, who had been his accom- 
plice in her father's murder, and who would certainly 
put a stop to her marriage. Gondebaud gave way at 


last, through fear ; and the marriage having been 
celebrated by proxy, the young princess set out from 
Chalons on the Saone, in a covered cart drawn by oxen. 
This slow mode of travelling did not suit the anxious 
haste of Clotildis to get safely out of her uncle's power. 
She prevailed on the ambassador of her husband, who 
attended her, to finish the journey on horseback, and 
leave the cart to follow by easy stages ; if she could 
only feel herself fairly out of Burgundy, all would be 
well. Her deliverance was not effected a moment too 
soon. The wicked counsellor of Gondebaud had mean- 
while returned from his mission to the East, and had 
persuaded the king to annul the marriage and recall 
his niece. Mounted soldiers followed on her track, 
and seized the empty cart ; but by that time Clotildis 
was safe across the border of Burgundy, and soon 
reached Soissons, where Clovis welcomed her. An 
hour or two, earlier or later ; a mile or two, faster or 
slower ; — on so trifling a preponderance of the balance 
is Providence often pleased to make the most momen- 
tous consequences depend. 



Trials of the young queen. — Her infant children. — Battle of 
Tolhiac. — Vow of Clovis. — His baptism. 

It was a bold venture, after all, which the young 
fugitive had made, to become the wife of a heathen ; 
yet she had no doubt heard enough of his respectful 
deference for such men as St. Remi, to make her hope 
the best for the effect of her influence on him. Be- 
sides, she was not by any means a solitary Christian 
at her husband's court. All of his Gallic subjects, 
that is, the natives of the country which the Franks 
then occupied, were Christians, although the leaven of 
Arianism had to a certain extent impaired the in- 
tegrity of the faith of many among them. The arrival 
of a Catholic queen at Soissons was an event of the 
brightest augury for them. They indulged in the 
fondest hopes that the honest heart of their heathen 
king would submit to the influence of Christianity, as 
he saw its spirit so engagingly represented in his 
incomparable queen. Their hopes were realised in the 
end ; but neither at the time nor in the way that those 
good souls had anticipated. 

Clotildis sustained her difficult part with excellent 
tact and prudence. She made good use of opportunities 
when they offered, for talking quietly to her husband 
about religion, without offensively obtruding it on hia 



notice. The first evidence of her growing influence 
was the permission which he gave her to have their 
eldest child, Ingomer, baptised. Her trust in Pro- 
vidence must have been sorely tried, when God took 
her infant to himself within a week of his baptism, 
and when in addition to her own natural sorrow, she 
had to bear the reproaches of her husband as the 
occasion of her child's death, by subjecting it to what 
he considered a superstitious rite. The broken- 
hearted mother could only reply by declaring her 
thankfulness to God for having called a child of her's 
to his kingdom. 

By the time that her second child, Clodomir, was 
born, Clotildis had regained sufficient influence to have 
him also carried to the baptismal font. Within a day 
or two after, he too sickened, like his brother, and 
Clovis, confirmed in his idea of baptism as a baneful 
act of magic, could only exclaim, in the bitterness of 
his disappointment, " Of course he must die, like his 
brother, since you have had him baptised." It was a 
moment of trial for our holy queen, hardly inferior in 
heaviness to that which demanded from Abraham the 
sacrifice of his only son. Not only the life of her 
child, but the chance, so to speak, of her husband's 
conversion was trembling in the balance. Yet she 
could do what alone remained for her to do. She 
asked from God the life of her infant as much for its 
father's sake as for its own, which indeed was not 


small to her. Providence was satisfied with the ordeal 
of suspense endured by the queen ; the moment of 
danger passed safely, and Clodomir lived to be a 

The founder of a race of kings was not disposed, 
in the pride of his first success, to receive the grace of 
conversion. It was necessary that he should be taught 
the uncertain value of human glory, before he could 
humble himself to accept of a religious system which 
must for some time previously have recommended 
itself to his understanding. But the time for his 
conversion was advancing, and at last arrived, in the 
following manner. 

Tbe Allemamii, a warlike tribe of Germany, occupy- 
ing the right, or eastern bank of the Upper Rhine, 
between the lake of Constance and Mayence, crossed 
the river (496), and attacked Cologne. The Franks in 
that part of the country lived under Sigebert, with 
whom Clovis at once made common cause, and gave 
the invaders battle at Tolbiac. The fortune of war 
seemed on the point of deserting the standard of 
Clovis ; his army was hard pressed, and himself in 
danger of falling into the hands of the enemy. "When 
hopeless rout was impending on the Franks, Clovia 
cried out in his agony, invoking Jesus Christ, whom 
Clotildis said was the Son of the living God, and vow- 
ing that if he gained the day, he would worship this 


Jesus, and be baptised in bis name. It was a blind 
6ort of venture, thus to stake truth or falsehood on the 
chance of a battle ; yet his rude heart probably in- 
tended well ; and after the tide of war had turned in 
his favour, he set about fulfilling his vow in earnest 
Passing by Toul on his return home, he took along 
with him St. Vedast, a holy priest, to instruct him in 
the Christian religion. Queen Clotildis met bim at 
Rheims with a grateful heart, and St. Remi was 
invited to admit tbe king to tbe rite of baptism. A 
difficulty yet remained. The Franks were devoted to 
their idols, and Clovis feared to shake their allegiance 
to himself if he offered any violence to the objects of 
their false worship. On the remonstrance of Remi, 
however, he called his army together, related to them 
the particulars of his vow on the day of danger before 
the enemy, and urged them to renounce their idols 
which had been unable to help them in emergency. 
They did not wait till he had finished speaking, but 
cried out, to a man, " We renounce them, and will 
adore the Incarnate God, whom Remi proclaims." It 
was then arranged that the ceremony of baptism should 
be performed on the eve of Christmas, in the church of 
St. Martin, outside the gates of the town (496). 

When the auspicious day arrived, a long and beau- 
tiful procession wound through the streets of Rheims, 
singing hymns of joy, till it reached the church, which 



had been sumptuously decorated for the occasion, 
St. Remi led Clovis by the hand ; Clotildis followed, 
with an overflowing heart, leading two sisters of her 
husband. No doubt she felt that the blessed spirit of 
her little Ingomer was not far off on that day : his 
bitter death had been the sowing-time of this harvest 
of recompense. The procession closed with three 
thousand Frank soldiers, the first-fruits of their nation 
to the gospel. On the way, Clovis turned to the bishop 
and asked him, " My father, is this the kingdom of 
Jesus Christ, which you have promised to me?" — 
" No, my prince," replied St. Remi, " it is only the 
way that leads to it." 

When they had reached the font, the bishop ad- 
dressed the royal convert, " Bow thy head, proud 
Sygambrian, beneath the yoke of the Lord ; worship 
what thou hast heretofore burnt, and burn what thou 
hast worshipped." He then baptised the king in the 
name of the Holy Trinity, and anointed him with 
chrism. Albofledis, one of the king's sisters, was also 
baptised ; the other, who was already a Christian, but 
had adopted the Arian creed, was received back to 
Catholic communion. The brave me:., who were com- 
panions of the king in the graces of that day, were 
baptised by the bishops and the clergy whom the great 
event had brought in numbers to Rheims. The whole of 
the following week was devoted to the completion of the 
king's instruction in religion. It is reported that while 


Remi was reading to him the Passion of our Lord, the 
Boldiers' nature broke forth in this exclamation, " If I 
had only been there with my Franks to avenge him ! " 


Clovis the Eldest Son of the Church. — He kills Alaric. — Is 
made a Patrician of the Empire. — Commences a church over 
the tomb of St. Genevieve at Paris. — Provincial Council at 
Orleans. — Clovis dies. — His grandson murdered. — Story of 
young Clotildis. — The queen retires to Tours.— Her death. 

The conversion of Clovis and of his companions gave 
sincere joy throughout the Christian world. The Pope 
wrote to congratulate him on the great event. The 
share which St. P^emi had in it procured for him the 
title of the Apostle of the Franks, as St. Martin, a 
century earlier, was called the Apostle of the Gallic 
nation. In fact, at that period, Clovis was the only 
Catholic sovereign in existence. The emperor was a 
Eutychian ; the kings of the Vandals in Africa, of the 
Visigoths in Spain and Aquitaine, of the Ostrogotbs 
in Italy, and of the people of Burgundy, were all Arians. 
The conversion of the Franks happening about a cen- 
tury earlier than the arrival of St. Augustine among 
the Anglo-Saxons in England, the king of the French 


nation used to call himself the Eldest son of the 

With the zeal of a neophyte, Clovis made strong 
and successful appeals to the body of the French nation 
to imitate his example, and abandon their idols. Before 
long, he had the pleasure of witnessing the conversion 
of nearly the whole of his people. Those of them who 
still remained unchanged, retired into Belgium, under 
a prince of the Franks who resided near Cambrai ; 
and, indeed, part of the Belgian population remained 
pagan, till the time of St. Bernard. 

Clovis also became an apt scholar of his holy wife, in 
works of Christian charity, in building and endowing 
churches, in relieving the poor, and in maintaining 
widows and orphans. When he had occasion to move 
his army in the neighbourhood of churches or monas- 
teries, he was more than ever strict in enforcing their 
immunity from plunder. 

It must be confessed, however, with the most im- 
partial historians, that the love of dominion and of 
conquest was little changed in the Frank king by his 
conversion. Only, when acts of injustice were success- 
fully achieved, of which the pagan would have thought 
no more, the Christian king set about making repara- 
tion for them, by munificent gifts to religion. He 
made the profession of Arianism, maintained by Ala- 
ric, an apology for attacking the kingdom of the Visi- 
goths ; in reality, however, burning with desire to 


plunder it for his own benefit. He defeated and killed 
Alaric in a pitched battle near Poitiers, and seized his 
treasury at Toulouse ; and but for the threatening atti- 
tude of Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, the royal 
treasury at Carcassonne would have shared the same 

By way of compensation, Clovis made rich presents 
to the church of St. Hilary at Poitiers, and of St. 
Martin at Tours ; and, on his return home, he fulfilled 
a vow which he had made before leaving it, to com- 
mence the erection of a church over the tomb of St. 
Genevieve at Paris, in honour of St. Peter and Paul ; 
an edifice to which Clotildis put a finishing hand. 

About the same time, the Roman emperor, Anasta- 
sius, paid the Frank king the high compliment of 
sending him the purple robe which distinguished a 
patrician, or a high nobleman of the empire. He 
assumed the badge of his new dignity at the tomb of 
St. Martin, outside the gate of Tours, and thence rode 
in state to the Cathedral, wearing a circlet of gold on 
his head, and scattering largesse to the people as he 
went along. 

The close of his reign was dishonoured by the treach- 
erous murder of several princes of his family in 
Austrasia, whom he desired to put out of the way, 
that the sovereignty might without fail descend to his 
own sons. His inordinate ambition satisfied, he had 
leisure to repent of what he had done, and to make 


such reparation as lie could for his crimes. The last 
year of his life, a numerous council of bishops assem- 
bled at Orleans, consisting of five metropolitans, or 
archbishops, and twenty-seven suffragans. The king 
co-operated with them in securing the stability of the 
rising French church. He died the same year (511), 
at Paris, and was interred in his new church, which 
afterwards became celebrated, under the name of the 
virgin St. Genevieve. 

Three sons of Clovis and of St. Clotildis survived 
their father, together with a fourth son of Clovis, born 
before his marriage with Clotildis. They divided the 
kingdom among them ; the towns of Metz, Soissons, 
Paris and Orleans being their respective capitals. For 
some years they lived in peace. The queen dowager 
spent a great part of her time at Tours, devoted to 
good works and the daily worship of God, in the church 
of St. Martin. 

By and by, however, the French kings were again 
involved in war with their neighbours. Clodomir, the 
eldest, fell in an engagement with the king of Bur- 
gundy, leaving three young sons, whose rights to their 
father's share of the kingdom obtained no respect from 
their uncles. The unhappy children were educated by 
their grandmother, Clotildis, who also removed to 
Paris, that she might more readily promote their in- 
terests, and prevail on their uncles to do them justice. 



The saint's surviving sons, jealous of the interest that 
she took in the young princes, and fearing that her 
influence might ohlige restitution of their patrimony, 
obtained possession of their persons by stratagem, and 
put two of them to death ; the third, Clodoald or Cloud, 
escaping, afterwards entered into holy orders, and lived 
and died in a pious manner, in the neighbourhood of 
Paris, where, in later times, a church and a royal 
residence received his name of St. Cloud, in deference 
to the local estimation which he enjoyed as a saint. 
The disconsolate queen recovered the bodies of her 
grandchildren, and gave them a royal funeral in the 
new church of St. Genevieve at Paris. 

Our Saint was destined to suffer another and still 
more cruel family affliction, in the person of her only 
daughter, Clotildis, who was married to Amalaric, king 
of the Visigoths. The young princess was a sincere 
Catholic, while her husband had the misfortune to be 
an Arian. This marriage of policy turned out a very 
miserable one. Amalaric insisted on his wife conform- 
ing to his religion ; she refused, and had to submit, in 
consequence, to the most savage treatment from the 
king, and even to the lowest indignities from her 
people, as she went to public worship in her own 
church. She at length appealed to her brother Childe- 
bert, king of Paris, and as a token, sent him a hand- 
kerchief dyed with her blood. The prince did not 


hesitate a moment. He entered Narbonne, the Visi- 
goth capital, with an armed force, seized the treasury, 
and killed Amalaric as he tried to escape. 

This act of summary justice accomplished, he set 
out in triumph for Paris, taking his unhappy sister 
along with him ; but she expired on the road, of the 
severe injuries she had received. 

Thus, on the whole, the life of our Saint, in that 
lawless time, had been a painful one. The massacre 
of her own family, when she was a child ; the death of 
her husband, the murder of her grandsons, and now 
the premature death of her only daughter, had nearly 
filled her cup of bitterness to the brim. But from this 
point, the closing years of her pilgrimage on earth 
were passed in comparative repose. She spent much 
of her time at Tours, in penitential observances and in 
continual prayer. Such property as she possessed was 
divided among the poor, and the followers of voluntary 
poverty in the religious orders. She built several 
houses for these in various parts of France, more 
particularly at Rheirns, at Tours, and at Rouen. 

Old age found her engaged in these works of charity 
and of piety- D urine one of her visits to Tours, she 
received an intimation trom a heavenly messenger that 
the day of her summons hence w r as very near. In the 
exuberant joy of her heart, she cried out, " Unto thee, 
Lord, I have lifted up my soul ; come and deliver 
me ; Lord I have trusted in thee." An attack of 

g 2 


illness confined her to bed, but alms and prayer con- 
tinued to be her constant employment. She sent for 
her two sons from Paris and from Soissons, to come 
and see her die. They came at her bidding, and she 
foretold to them many events which were about to 
happen. On the thirtieth day after the summons of 
the angel, she was anointed, and then received the 
sacred viaticum, according to the usual order at tbat 
time, and for many ages subsequently. Then declaring 
her belief in the Most Holy Trinity, she passed away 
from the scene of her many trials to everlasting rest, 
the 3rd of June, 545. Her departure took place in the 
night ; yet we are told that her chamber shone as if it 
had been noonday ; and that the brightness lasted till 
daybreak. Her sons conveyed the body of the queen 
to Paris, and laid it beside her husband, in the church 
of St. Genevieve ; from which they were afterwards 
removed to the royal mausoleum at St Denys. 


%xh nf Saint liabcgxtnir, 


■ and Grief, too, held her vigil there ; 

With unrelenting sway 
Breaking my airy visions down, 

Throwing my flowers away: — 
I owe to her fond care alone 
That I may now be all Thine own." 


Radegunct, a princess of Thuringia. — Becomes the captive of 
Clotaire I., king of the Franks, — afterwards his queen.— They 
separate. — Her convent at Poitiers. — Hymn Vexilla. — Her ill- 
ness and death. — Story of St. Junian. — Charles VII. of France. 



Radegund, a princess of Thuriugia. — Becomes the captive of 
Clotaire I., king of the Franks, — afterwards his queen. — 
They separate. — Her convent at Poitiers. — Hymn Vexilla. — 
Her illness and death. — Story of St. Junian. — Charles VII. 
of France. 

Thdrikgia, the native country of St. Kadegund, em- 
braced the territory beyond the Rhine, lying between 
the Weser and the Oder. At the death of king 
Basinus, it was divided among his three sons. Her- 
manfried, the most powerful and the most ambitious of 
the three, coveted the possessions of his brothers. 
Goaded on by the taunts of his unscrupulous queen, a 
niece of the Gothic sovereign, Theodoric, he assas- 
sinated his brother Berthaire, and only waited for a 
good opportunity of putting Balderic, the survivor, out 
of the way. At that time, Thierry, the eldest son of 
Clovis, king of the Franks, reigned at Metz, over the 
territory now comprehended in Lorraine, Champagne, 
Belgium, and the Rhenish provinces of Prussia. Her- 
manfried entered into an alliance with Thierry, for the 
infamous purpose of wresting the remaining portion of 


Tliuringia from his brother, Balderic, by the sword. 
Their wicked project succeeded ; but, as often happens 
among unprincipled men, when associated for an 
evil object, Hermanfried overreached his ally in the 
bargain they had struck, about the territory which 
Thierry was to acquire as the price of his co-operation. 
The Frank king dissembled his indignation, and his 
purpose of revenge, until the death of Theodoric, the 
king of the Goths, with whom he wished to avoid a 
collision (526). Thierry then called his brother, Clo- 
taire I., from Soissons to his aid ; they entered Thu- 
ringia together, and inflicted a cruel chastisement on 
the perfidious Hermanfried ; devastating the country 
with fire and sword, and carrying off much valuable 
booty and many prisoners of war. 

Clotaire obtained, as part of his share in the adven- 
ture, a young prince and princess, the orphan children 
of Berthaire. Radeguud and her little brother, after 
seeing their home made desolate by their wicked uncle, 
were now torn from their native country, and carried 
to Soissons, as captives and slaves of the Frank king, 
Clotaire (531). 

Though tall of her age, Radegund was still a child. 
The horrors she had already passed through had 
stamped on her beautiful face an expression of wild 
and of bitter sorrow, rarely seen in one so young. 
Clotaire admired her childish beauty, and with the 
desire of educating her for his future queen, sent her 


to reside at Athie, in Picardy, his country seat on the 
Somme. In this retired and genial spot, the little 
princess soon made rapid progress in her studies, 
under competent instructors, and by degrees became 
more reconciled to the sad vicissitudes of her life ; the 
light of the gospel, too, began slowly to dispel the 
heathen darkness of her childhood. The day of her 
baptism was to her the beginning of a new and a nobler 
life, in which the imitation of Jesus Christ seems to 
have always formed the guiding principle of her 

Time glided insensibly away, and young Radegund 
reached her nineteenth year (538). A message from 
Clotaire then summoned her to Vitry, in Belgium, to 
become his queen. The licentious man was not worthy 
of her. His private life was defaced by the worst vices 
of his yet half-savage race. But his will was absolute 
law for his dependents ; and in spite of her aversion, 
the young Thuringian princess was compelled to 
assume the rank of queen-consort to this wicked man. 
She was already no novice in the practice of submission 
to the roughest discipline ; but all her past training 
was necessary to support her in the life of trial now 
before her. The love of prayer, of austerities, and 
of the poor, which she had learnt at Athie, stood her 
in good stead now. Yet, with all her endeavours, she 
failed to secure the love of her lawless husband, who 
used to declare that she turned his court into a cloister. 


His courtiers encouraged these unjust reproaches of 
the king ; . iolent scenes ensued, from which the 
patience of the unhappy queen afforded her no pro- 
tection ; her only friend in that courtly circle, her 
brother, fell a victim to the cruelty of Clotaire ; and 
his death filled up the measure of our saint's heavy 

Radegund had now passed six years of anxious 
struggle. Worn out with the contest, she solicited 
permission to retire from court, and assume the habit 
of a nun.* Clotaire was only too glad to get rid of 
her on such easy terms. It was arranged that she 
should commence her new life at Noyon, under the 
sanction of St. Medard, the bishop. She afterwards 
retired in her religious character to Saix, one of the 
royal residences in Poitou, where she at once adopted 
a severely penitential course of life. In no long time, 
however, the danger which naturally impends over such 
an arrangement as she had recently made, actually 
happened : Clotaire repented the dismissal of his beau- 
tiful queen, and news reached her that he was on his 

* The mutual abandonment of conjugal duties and rights, 
although sometimes permitted, cannot be said to be encouraged 
by the Church. Since the age of our Saint, new safeguards 
have been interposed. Not only must the consent of both par- 
ties be given, as, indeed, was necessary then, hut both parties 
must now embrace the religious life, with the option to the 
husband of entering into holy orders. 


way to Saix to reclaim her. She escaped with her 
companions to Poitiers, and, from the church of St. 
Hilary, wrote a letter to the king, imploring him to 
regard her for the future as dead to him. She pre- 
vailed, and soon after laid the foundation of a convent 
at Poitiers. A second time the king altered his mind, 
and insisted on Ptadegund's returning to his court. It 
required all the influence of Germanus, bishop of Paris, 
supported by threats of the vengeance of St. Martin, 
whom the Franks had learnt from the Gauls to revere, 
to make the king change his purpose. He ultimately 
died in possession of the entire kingdom of his father, 
and not before he had an opportunity of making such 
amends as were possible for his licentious life (561). 

The Council of Tours, (566) formally placed the 
young convent of St. Radegund under its protection. 
By and by it assumed the name of St. Croix, in honour 
of a relic of the Holy Cross, which the emperor Justin 
sent to the convent at the request of the queen. Her 
friend, Venantius Fortunatus, afterwards bishop of 
Poitiers, composed on the occasion the hymn Vexilla 
regis prodeunt, nearly in the form in which it is still 
found in the Breviary, on Passion Sunday. 

The latest incident in our Saint's active life was a 
journey to Aries, undertaken for the purpose of more 
complete initiation into the Rule which she had 
adopted for her nuns. At the feet of the illustrious 
abbess Csesaria, Radegund acquired the necessary in- 


struction ; and returned to Poitiers, to put the finishing 
touches to the -work of her life. 

As our Saint approached its termination, and saw 
her task on earth accomplished in the permanent 
establishment of her nuns, she often begged our Lord 
to call her to Himself. One day, while she was pray- 
ing in her oratory more fervently than usual, a youth 
of glorious appearance stood before her, and, shewing 
her his pierced hands and feet, from which issued rays 
of light more dazzling than the sun's, thus addressed 
her : — " soul which I have redeemed, what is it that 
you ask of me ? Why so many tears, and sighs, and 
prayers? See ! I am always by your side, and very 
soon you shall know what the joys of heaven are, for 
you are a pearl of great price, and one of the most 
precious jewels in My crown." — " But why, my 
Lord," rejoined the weeping saint, " do you bestow such 
a favour as this on me who am so unworthy ?" — " Do 
not speak so, my child," answered her Lord ; "I grant 
My favours to whom I will, and to whom I know it to 
be best to do so. To doubt this, would be to offend 
against faith and hope." 

All through the first half of the year 587, St. Kade 
gund lost strength daily, and her nuns plainly per- 
ceived that they must soon lose their beloved mother. 
Yet, to the last, she continued her practices of severe 
penance, she discharged, as usual, the most menial 
duties in the house, and she deprived her poor body vt' 


food and of sleep. On the 12th of August, nature gave 
way, and the dying saint was unable to rise from the 
couch of sackcloth and ashes on which she usually 
snatched a little repose. Her nuns gathered about her, 
to pay her the last offices of love, and to learn how a 
saint could die. She bade them be comforted for her 
departure, and promised that in heart and in thought 
she would still remain with them. She received with 
overflowing devotion the last sacraments of the dying ; 
and after the rite, she lay in profound meditation till 
the evening ; when all at once she began to discourse 
to her spiritual children with singular fluency and 
abundance, in words of the tenderest piety, chiefly sup- 
plied by her memory from her daily reading in the 
Gospels, in the Psalms of David, and in the writings 
of the holy fathers. 

At night the saint relapsed into silence ; but her 
eyes, and every portion of her countenance was eloquent 
with joy, and a sense of victory achieved. Heaven 
was so near her, and so attractive, that she had not one 
look of regret to spare for what she was leaving behind. 
As morning dawned she spoke once more : " I feel 
no more pain. — May God bless you all. — May Mary, 
our mother and our advocate, protect you. — Imitate her 
humility and her obedience. — Despise wealth, and 
value poverty above everything that is precious in the 
world. — I am leaving my exile for my home ; my labour 
for eternal rest in God. — See ! the angels are coming 


to attend me to the marriage-feast of the immaculate 
Lamb. — The Spouse calls me away. — Gloria in excelsis 
Deo, et in terra pax hominibus bouse voluntatis." With 
these concluding words she gently bowed her head, 
and all was over. So radiant was the sunset of her 
cloudy and dark day. * 

A singular incident is related in connexion with 
St. Eadegund's death. A pious hermit of the name of 
Junian, between whom and St. Eadegund there sub- 
sisted a holy friendship, had arranged with her, many 
years before, that whichever of them survived should 
receive the very earliest intelligence of the death of the 
other, that the survivor might pray for the departed. 
The moment that our saint expired, a messenger was 
despatched with the news to a place called Chaunay, 
a favourite resort of St. Junian. Exactly half way 
between Chaunay and St. Croix, the messenger from 
St. Croix met a messenger from Chaunay, on his way 
to communicate to St. Eadegund the news of St. 
Junian 's death. A priory, called La Troussaie, was after- 
wards erected on the spot where the messengers met. 

The bishop of Poitiers was absent on a journey when 
the abbess of St. Croix expired. St. Gregory was there- 
fore invited from Tours by her nuns to come and assist 

* Within these few years a pious lady, reduced hy illness to 
the last extremity of weakness, suddenly raised herself in her 
dying bed, and stretching out her arras, with a beaming coun- 
tenance exclaimed, " I see the sceptre of His love ! Take me 
to Him ! take me to Him ! " and, sinking back, expired. 


them in laying her in the tomb. He has left in writing 
an affecting narrative of the whole cei'emony, in which 
the natural grief of all who were present was straugely 
mingled with supernatural attestations of the beatitude 
of the departed soul. Crowds came to visit her tomb, 
out of devotion to her memory, and to supplicate for 
temporal and spiritual blessings ; and none of her 
clients seem to have left the place with a wish unful- 
filled. To the saint's intercession, the recovery of 
Anjou and Maine, of Normandy and of Guienne from 
the English, in the middle of the 15th century, used 
to be ascribed by Charles VII of France, quite as much 
as to the imbecility of the English government. 

St. Radegund is now venerated at Poitiers as the 
patroness of the town. Her biography has been written 
by the illustrious Fortunatus, her contemporary and 
friend ; by Baudonivia, one of her nuns ; and by 
Hildebert, archbishop of Tours, from the archives of 
her convent. St. Gregory of Tours, who highly 
esteemed her, from personal knowledge, has inserted 
her panegyric in several of his works. 

The tomb of the saint was violated, and her bones 
burnt by the French Calvinists (1562), but her convent, 
after sustaining various losses in the great revolution, 
still survives. 

A convent bearing her name once stood on the site 
of Jesus College, Cambridge ; a row of houses in the 
neighbourhood is still called Radegund Buildings. 



Clovis I. died 511.— St. Clotildis. 
Clotaire I. died 561.— St. Radegund. 
Clulperic I. died 584. 

Clotaire II. died 628. 

Dagobert I. died 638. 

Clovis II.— St. Bathildie. 


if* nf Saint latbiliris, 







Chap. I. 

Two provinces of the Franks. — Reign of Dagobert I. — 
The office of Mayor of the Palace. — Bathildis, an English 
slave— is married to Clovis IT. — He dies .... 8 

Chap. II. 

Bathildis is Regent. — Her humane acts. — Her convents. 
■ — She resigns, — and retires. — Chelles. — Dies. — Reflections 8 





Two provinces of the Franks.— Reign of Dagobert I.— The 
office of Mayor of the Palace. — Bathildis, an English slave 
— is married to Clovis II. — He dies. 

We are not concerned to follow the fortunes of the 

Merovingian race of kings, step by step, as it reached 

its highest point of glory, and thence began to decline. 

But as the commencement of its history is associated 

with a holy queen, so the beginning of its decline also 

introduces the reader to another saint, Bathildis, the 

wife of Clovis II. In order fully to understand the 

particulars of her life, it will be necessary to observe 

a few of the more striking changes which had been 

brought about in the conditions of the Franks, as a 

nation, during the century immediately succeeding the 

de?th of St. Clotildis. 

H 2 


The four little provinces, (for in the modern sense it 
would be almost absurd to call them kingdoms,) of 
which the respective centres were Orleans, Paris, Sois- 
sons, and Metz, were fused into two, under the names 
of Austrasia and Neustria. Austrasia, or German- 
France, embraced the north-eastern part of ancient 
Gaul, of which the Franks had first made themselves 
masters, together with all the district of country stretch- 
ing eastward to the confines of Germany and the Rhine. 
Its population was a shifting one ; as new hordes of 
barbarians arrived from Germany, Frisians, Westpha- 
lians, and Saxons, they were not easily fused into the 
great Frank family, and thus the civilization of Austrasia 
was much retarded. 

Neustria, or Roman-France, on the other hand, 
extended from the borders of the north-eastern province 
to the Atlantic Ocean, and towards the south, as 
far as the river Loire. It was the policy of Clovis, 
and of his successors, to make the most of this portion 
of their French possessions, as their ultimate design 
was the occupation of the whole territory of ancient 
Gaul. Through the failure of other branches of the 
race, it happened more than once in its history that the 
king of one of these provinces became king also of the 
other. Thus Clovis II. and his son, Dagobert I., the 
friends and patrons of St. Eloy, the goldsmith, held both 
provinces, and Burgundy into the bargain. 

In Dagobert I. the Merovingian race of kings is 


regarded as having reached its highest eminence. He 
was a good friend to religion, although, it must be con- 
fessed, his private life was, for a time at least, not 
strictly in accordance with his profession. He also 
laid the foundation of a system of laws for his people. 
From the period of his death (638,) the decline of his 
race is usually believed to have begun. The rapid 
decay of this line of kings has not escaped the remark 
of an eminent historian, who observes, that of the four 
sons of Clovis I., and again of Clotaire I., only one left 
issue. Most of the other kings died young men in 
years. They were a peculiar race. A king of the 
Franks was a father at fifteen, and an old man at 
thirty. Their sudden change from barbarism to the 
luxuries of comparative civilisation brought in its 
train habits of indulgence which proved fatal to 
strength and life, and at last extinguished the line 
altogether, in the feebleness of an effete race. 

Another element in the history of the Frank kiugs 
demands notice, both as explaining another cause of their 
decline, and as intimately connected with the story of 
Bathildis. We mean the office of the Mayor of the 
palace, or major-domo ; a kind of lord chamberlain ; 
at first introduced by the kings, as an instrument for 
controlling the wealthy proprietors of land, from whom 
the mayor of the palace was always taken. In process 
of time, however, this officer found it more for his 
advantage to make common cause with the proprietors, 


nnd to control the king ; thus he became at length the 
nominee, not of the king, but of the proprietors, who 
elected their favorite. In this way the family of Pepin, 
mayor of the palace in Austrasia, rose to power, and 
finally superseded in name, as it had long done in fact, 
the royal line of Clovis. 

On the death of Dagobert I., Austrasia fell to the 
share of his son Sigebert II., while Neustria and Bur- 
gundy were allotted to his other son, Clovis II., then 
a minor ; in whose name the regency was held by his 
mother, Nantechilde, and by d'Eghe, mayor of the 
palace. The chief ornament of his court were St. Eloy 
and his friend St. Ouen, both of them were soon after- 
ward promoted to the mitre, at Noyon and at Rouen. 

D'Eghe dying, his office at the Court of Neustria 
was supplied by Erchinoald ; and at this point in the 
history of the Franks our story begins. 

In one of the frequent forays, (for they merit no more 
dignified name,) that took place between the Franks 
and the inhabitants of that part of Great Britain lying 
next France, a young English girl was taken prisoner, 
carried into France, and sold as a domestic slave to 
Erchinoald, mayor of the palace, under Clovis II. 
Her name was Baltechildis, shortened into Balthildis, 
or Bathildis. Her sweetness and goodness under mis- 
fortune, quite as much as the cheerfulness of her 
beautiful countenance, and the elegance of her figure, 
recommended her to her master, who appointed her to 


the lighter duties of waiting, as the cupbearer, at his 
table. She was as popular among her fellow-slaves, as 
she was with her master and his friends. There was no 
office of kindness too menial for her to perform, for the 
very least among them. The charm of her manners we 
are told, was farther heightened by a delicate reserve, 
which forbade familiarity, without diminishing their 

" Within her face, 

Humility and dignity 

Were met in a most sweet embrace." 

Her master was fascinated by his beautiful slave ; 
and at the death of his wife, Lanthilde, he offered his 
hand in marriage to Bathildis. It was found impos- 
sible, however, to overcome her reluctance. Young 
Clovis, equally attracted by the lovely English girl, 
was more fortunate ; Bathildis accepted him, and be- 
came his queen. She carried with her into her new 
life of honour the same goodness that had won all hearts 
to her in her former lowliness. She studied her hus- 
band's wishes in everything ; the poor found her a 
liberal friend ; to the clergy she showed the deference 
of an affectionate daughter. She, too, like all of her 
blessed order, was much devoted to prayer, frequently 
mingling her tears with her supplications. Clovis 
seeing her piety, gave her a valuable assistant and 
guide, in his friend, abbot Genesius, through whom 


she dispensed her bounty to the destitute, and to con- 
vents and churches. The good abbot rose to be bishon 
of Lyons in the course of time. 

Her union with the king was blessed with thre* 
sons. The crown of Austrasia becoming vacant (656,) 
by the death of Sigebert, and the failure of his issue. 
Clovis succeeded to the possession of the entire king- 
dom of the Franks. He did not long survive this 
accumulation of honours, dying in November of the 
same year, after a reign of eighteen years, yet still a 
young man. 


Bathildis is Regent. — Her humane acts. — Her convents. — She 
resigns — and retires. — Chelles. — Dies.— Reflections. 

As was usual on the death of a Frank king, one of the 
sons of Clovis succeeded to the crown of Neustria and 
of Burgundy, with the title of Clotaire III.; his brother 
Childeric I. became king of Austrasia ; while Thierry, 
the youngest of the late king's sons, had to wait for 
fifteen years, till the death of his brother Clotaire 
opened up for him the succession to Neustria and 

The Regency of her son Clotaire's share of the king- 
dom was held by his mother, Bathildis, assisted by 
Erchinoald, the mayor of the palace, her old master. 


For a time all went well. The queen studied the 
advantage of her people in every possible way. She 
extinguished a poll-tax, which had been so rigorously 
levied as to tempt poor fathers of families to destroy 
their children rather than incur the penalty incident 
to rearing a numerous family of contributors to the 
odious tax. Like St. Margaret of Scotland, also, Ba- 
thildis took much to heart the abuses which had crept 
into religion, and she engaged the bishops to extirpate 
the plague of simony, which threatened to eat into the 
heart of the Frank church. The queen was a munifi- 
cent friend to the religious houses of her kingdom. In 
particular, she founded two, out of her own private pro- 
perty ; one of them at Corby, near Amiens ; and the 
other at Chelles, near Paris, on the river Marne. 

When St. Eloy gave up his holy soul to God (659), 
at Noyon, the queen went to see his remains, and 
spared no pains to secure them, as relics of a saint, for 
her convent at Chelles. The inhabitants of the town 
were equally desirous to keep them to themselves, and 
the queen eventually waived her claim. 

To the redemption of slaves taken in war, queen 
Bathildis especially devoted herself, with the liberality 
of one who had herself known the sorrows of a captive 
in an enemy's laud. While prisoners of war were every 
day sold for the benefit of their captors, the queen was 
a constant purchaser, more particularly when hef 
unhappy countrymen and countrywomen were offered 


for sale. Her edicts against the barbarous practice do 
not seem to have been much attended to. 

But troubles now began to gather round our queen. 
Erchinoald was no longer mayor of the palace ; and 
the ambitious and impracticable policy of his successor, 
Ebroin, involved the government in serious disputes 
with the nobles and the clergy of Neustria. The new 
mayor was unscrupulous as he was daring. If a bishop 
presumed to question his designs, the mitre was no 
protection against the vengeance of Ebroin. Anne- 
mond, bishop of Lyons, perished in this w T ay; and to 
aggravate the crime, the mayor pretended that he had 
the authority of the queen for what he had done. This 
was not the only instance in which he attempted to 
compromise his royal mistress, who, feeling herself no 
match for her chamberlain, could only resign the 
regency, and retire altogether from public life (665). 
She bade adieu to her counsellors, forgiving those who 
had injured her, and asking the forgiveness of all for 
herself in return ; and sought a home among her nuns 
at Chelles. Here her habitual humility again found 
full scope: she submitted to the abbess, as to a mother; 
and the sisters she regarded as her equals, or even as 
her superiors ; for there was no duty in the house low 
enough or menial enough to satisfy her. She served 
them at their meals, and she served them in the 
Bcullery; but her favourite post of service was the 
infirmary. She had learnt her noviciate of charity 


while she was the slave of Divine Providence ; now 
she perfected herself in it as the slave of the love of 
Jesus. Her habit of prayer, her gift of tears, followed 
her to Chelles, and were the crown of her holy life, as 
they had been its chief support. 

The last fifteen years of her life were passed in this 
peaceful retirement. At length the end began to draw 
near. Her health declined, and she suffered acute 
pain. Yet so complete was the training of this holy 
woman in the school of suffering, that she made her 
very infirmities a subject of thanksgiving to her Lord. 
Shortly before her departure to eternal life, she had a 
vision similar to the dream of the patriarch Jacob. 
She beheld a ladder erected before the altar of the 
Blessed Virgin ; its summit was lost in heaven, and 
the angels of God were waiting to accompany herself 
in her ascent to paradise. She gathered from it an 
intimation that the hour of her deliverance was at 
hand. She seems to have confided her vision to a few 
persons only, and to have begged that it might be kept 
secret from the good abbess and her nuns, kuowing 
the grief that such an intimation would occasion them ; 
neither was her humility willing to make a boast of 
the assurance of her heavenly reward, with which she 
had been favoured. She applied herself more assidu- 
ously than ever to prayer, waiting from day to day, 
with great humility and contrition of heart, the plea- 
sure of her gracious Lord. A young godchild of hers, 


aged six years, was invited by the saint to accompany 
her to heaven, and took leave of the world a short time 
before herself. Finally, the saint, resigning her soul 
into the protection of Jesus, with her eyes and her 
hands raised to heaven, departed in great peace, 
January 30th, 680. A supernatural light is said to 
have pervaded her chamber at the moment of her 
passage. Few persons were aware of it, so well had 
her secret been kept. The grief of her nuns was great 
in proportion to its suddenness, on hearing that their 
treasure, for so they regarded her, had been taken 
from them. Commending her precious soul with many 
tears to their heavenly master, they buried their 
beloved friend with great reverence and honour. 

Her contemporary biographer sums up her character 
ill few words, as a striking example of the union of 
humility with wisdom, of meekness, and amiability, 
and even excessive compassion, with the most vigilant 
prudence, and delicacy tbe most pure. All her actions 
were the fruit, not of impulse, but of well-concerted 

A succession of miraculous cures at her tomb attested 
the stamp of approbation which Almighty God had put 
on her life and her holy death. Her remains were 
long preserved as relics at Chelles, and a part of them 
at Corby. A hundred and fifty years after her death, 
they were translated into a more distinguished shrine. 

Distance of time makes events, which in their day 


seemed long separated, appear as if they were almost 
coincident. Distance of place has a similar effect en 
objects of vision. Two stars, millions, perhaps billions 
of miles apart, shall seem as if they shone together as 
one, if you only recede far enough away from them. 
We read, on one page, of our saint's trials as a slave ; 
on the next, of her trials as a queen. A page or two 
further on, we come to the end of all her trials, and 
tre commencement of her reward. Doubtless, as she 
regards all these events now, from her seat if bliss in 
heaven, they must appear as transient, as virtually 
coincident as they do to us in reading of them, twelve 
centuries after their occurrence. But they were by no 
means so closely united, while they were actually and 
slowly passing. Each day of slavery, of separation 
from her native land, seemed as long to her, then, as 
any day of suffering still seems to us now. Faith 
and hope alone can thus bring the beginning and the 
end together, and so blend the endurance of the conflict 
with the enjoyment of the crown, as to make the 
heaviest trials appear light, and the longest, " but for a 
moment," even while they ai*e actually weighing on the 
human spirit. This is an important lesson, resulting 
especially from the study of the lives of saints who 
were, more remarkably than others, " made perfect 
through suffering." 



Clovis I. died 511. — tSt. Clotildis. 

Clotaire 1 died 561. 

t'hilperic I. died 58-4. 

Clotaire II. died 628. 

Dagobert 1. died 638. 

Clovis II.— St. Bathiidin. 

The Lives of SS. Clotildis and Bathildis may be found at 
length in Mabillon, Acta SS. Ord. Ben., Volumes I. and II. 
There the common error is corrected, which assigns the 26th 
January as the day of St. Bathildis' death, and, afterwards, of 
her festival. 

The author has also taken as his guide, in sketching tho 
rise and progress of the Franks, Henrion's Histoire de France, 
tome I. 

OCTOBER, 1890. 




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Second edition. Cloth, 32mo, - - U 2 6 

Search the Scriptures and find the 
Catholic Church. A Little Book of Medi- 
tation for the Million. Wrapper, 6d.; cl., 10 
Shapcote, Emily Mary, compiled by: 

Among the Lilies, and other Tales, - - 4 

Legends of the Blessed Sacrament ; gathered 
from the History of the Church and the 
Lives of the Saints. Profusely illustrated 
and handsomely bound, large quarto, - 6 
Sharowood, T. S.: For a King! An Histori- 
cal Romance. 2 vols. Cloth gilt, - 8 
Stewart, Agnes M. (Uniform edition of 
the works of) : 
Life of Mary Queen of Scots, 
Life and Letters of Blessed Thomas More, - 
The Yorkshire Plot, 

The People's Martyr: a Legend of Canterbury, 
Life of Cardinal Pole, 
Last Abbot of Thornton ; or. Lord Wake of 

Baynard Castle, - - - - 3 



■ 3 



Burns and Oates Catalogue. 





1 6 

1 6 


2 6 

Life of St. Angela Merici, - - -[ £0 

Alone in the World, - - - 

The Three Elizabeths, 
Stewart, Miss E. M. : 

Stories of Christian Schools, 
King and the Cloister, - - net 

Taylor, Miss: 

Lost, and other Tales for Children, - - 2 

A Marvellous History; or, The Life of Jeanne 

de La Noue, .... 
Forgotten Heroines. Cloth, 
Stoneleighs of Stoneleigh, and other Stories, 
Tyborne, and who went thither. New and 

revised edition, - 
Master Will and Won't, and other Stories. 

Fancy cloth, .... 

A Shrine and a Story, 
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Library of Eeligious Biography : 

Life of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, 

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Life of St. Stanislas Kostka, 

Life of Baron de Benty, - 

Life of Ven. Anna-Maria Taigi, - 

Life of Marie Lataste, '- 

Life of Henri-Marie Boudon, 

Life of Leon Papin-Dupont, 

Life of Jean Baptiste Muard, 

Life and Glories of St. Joseph, 
The Blessed will know each other in 

Heaven. From the French of the Abbe 

Meric. Tastefully bound, - - 3 

Thoughts of many Hearts. By a Member 

of the Ursuline Community, Thurles. With 

a Preface by the Archbishop of Cashel. 

Pocket size. Very prettily bound in cloth, 

extra gilt, - - - -020 

Ullathorne, Archbishop, Characteristics 

from the Writings of. Together with a Bio- 

graphical Account of the Archbishop's 












16 Selection from Burns and Oates Catalogue. 

Works. By the Kev. M. F. Glancey. 
Crown 8vo, cloth, - - - £0 6 

Vere, Aubrey de. Selections from the 

Poets. New edition. Cloth, - 3 6 

Poems. Cloth, - - - 4 6 

May Carols ; or, Ancilla Domini. Popular 

edition. Wrappered hoards, - - 2 6 

Better edition. Cloth gilt, - - 5 

With photos., gilt edges, - - 7 6 

St. Peter's Chains ; or, Eome and the Italian 

Revolution. Wrapper, - - - 1 

Cloth, - - - - - 2 

Ward, Miss. Texts for Children. With 

Preface by Father Gallway, S.J. 32mo, -006 
Cloth, red edges, - - - 1 

Weld, R. M. Lily the Lost One; or, The 

Fatal Effects of Deception. Cloth, - 2 6 

Winter, M. A. de : 

The Castle and the Manor ; or, My Hero and 

his Friend. A Story. Cloth gilt - 3 6 

Wiseman, Cardinal : 

Fabiola : a Tale of the Catacombs. Cloth, 3 6 
Cloth gilt, - - - -040 

A beautifully Illustrated Edition on large 
quarto paper, handsomely bound, gilt edges 
(suitable for a Prize or Present), - - 1 1 

Wishes on Wings. By the Author of 
' Marion Howard,' ' Maggie's Rosary,' &c. 
Fancy cloth, - - - - 3 6 

Witch of Melton Hill, The: a Tale. By 
the Author of 'Mount St. Lawrence'. 
Cloth extra gilt, - - - - 2 6 

Wyndham Family, The: a Story of 

Modern Life. 2 vols., 10s. 6d., - for 5 3 

Young and Fair: a Tale to while away a 
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Fancy cloth, - - - - 4 

BURNS & OATES, Limited. 

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DA 782.9 

M3 L53 1890 

The life and times of 

Saint Margaret, Queen 
AWU-5283 (mcsk)